Bishop of St Albans asks Government about rural connectivity

On 19th March 2020 the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer to two question to Government on rural connectivity:

 The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL2563 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the announcement about the delivery of 4G mobile signal to 95 per cent of the country on 25 October 2019, how many full ‘not-spot’ communities in England will benefit from the Government’s investment in the Single Rural Network.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL2564 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the announcement about the delivery of 4G mobile signal to 95 per cent of the country on 25 October 2019, what assessment they have made of the proportion of the population that live in full ‘not-spot’ communities that will benefit from that delivery.

Baroness Barran: The Government wants the UK to have high-quality mobile coverage where people live, work and travel, and we are committed to extending geographic mobile coverage further to 95% of the UK, as well as providing an uninterrupted mobile signal on all major roads.

Subsequent to the 25 October 2019 announcement, the Government announced on 9 March that it had agreed a deal with the mobile network operators to deliver the Shared Rural Network programme. This will see Government and industry jointly invest to increase 4G mobile coverage throughout the UK to 95% geographic coverage by the end of 2025.

While the biggest improvements in coverage arising from the Shared Rural Network will be in Scotland and Wales, there will be improvements across all four nations. 4G geographic coverage in England is currently 97% from at least one operator and 81% from all four operators. As a result of the programme, this will increase to 98% coverage from at least one operator, and 90% from all four by the end of 2025.

Today, 97% of UK premises outdoors are covered by 4G data services from all operators, while almost all UK premises have 4G data coverage from at least one operator. The Shared Rural Network will provide guaranteed additional coverage to 280,000 premises across the UK, both in areas that currently have no coverage from any operator, and those that have coverage from at least one operator but not all four. There will also be further indirect improvements over time, including better indoor coverage in around 1.2m business premises and homes.

We do not currently have specific details on the precise impact that the Shared Rural Network will have on individual communities across the whole of the UK, including those in England. Exact site deployment plans will be managed by the operators themselves in order for them to best deliver the agreed coverage outcomes. However, we expect that consumers will feel the benefit of the programme long before its conclusion and the operators will consult with communities as roll out plans become clearer.