back to article UK.gov sits down with mobile big four to formalise plans for rural shared 4G network

UK ministers are meeting the heads of O2, Three, EE and Vodafone later today to formalise plans for a Shared Rural Network (SRN), which would improve coverage in rural black spots. The SRN will allocate £1bn to build new masts in areas that lack decent coverage, as well as upgrade existing ones. Customers from each of the …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Mobile Openreach

    How long before we move to having an Openreach for mobile? It does kind of make sense.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As a shareholder I would be more worried

      We already do - Arqiva owns most of the masts in the UK and leases them to the various providers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: As a shareholder I would be more worried

        Arqiva doesn't own most of the masts. Possibly somewhere in the 15-25% region.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is probably a stupid question, but if they plan to put in all that new kit (or upgrade existing stuff in places) anyway, why not just put in "5G" kit instead of 4G and save all the trouble of upgrading it all again later?

    1. Kevin Johnston

      It is probably down to 5G being shorter range and so would need a lot more masts for the same total coverage. They will want maximum return per mast and siting will be a challenge to say the least but also, will there be the interest away from the cities in making use of 5G compared to 4G?...they will probably be too busy fainting from getting a signal at all

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Some of what is called '5G' is shorter range (the higher frequency stuff). Some of it is basically the same as 4G but with a few enhancements to make it a little faster, 4G++ basically.

        The marketing term '5G' covers both.

        1. Keven E

          G wiz

          Yep, the bul****ters *here are hard-selling nationwide 5G coverage... even when they clearly don't have that with 4G.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They don't want China to spy on our farmers and learn our milking secrets.

    3. steelpillow Silver badge
      Devil

      This is probably a stupid question

      There are many who think that the current state of 5G is the stupid answer: expensive, late, short-range and unable to reach inside buildings.

      Just please, please don't ask whether the emperor has no clothes, or my currently modestly-usable 4G will not get upgraded but instead replaced by crass stupidity.

      1. AndyD 8-)₹

        Re: This is probably a stupid question

        Well I tried to tell you that there weren't enough lampposts in the countryside for 5G - kids today, they just don't listen <g>

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    "The move was also hailed by the heads of the big four"

    Well yeah, they're getting a subsidy. Let's see how well they squander that.

  4. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    15 years too late

    Nick Jeffrey saying: "A rural postcode should not be a barrier to receiving a decent mobile signal.

    So why have you sat on your arse for the past 15 years (start of 3G) and not done anything about it? Imagine all those extra customers you could have signed up if you (or anyone else) had a network that worked in all kinds of places. Word would soon get out that your network had coverage and the others didn't.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 15 years too late

      Twenty years ago when I got my first mobile my choice of network was the only one that had any reception at home. (Even if that meant, only on one side of the house, upstairs, by a window).

      These days you can get some signal from all the networks there, but Vodafone is still the most usable.

      It's almost like putting up a mast just to serve a village of about fifty people is too much money.

    2. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: 15 years too late

      I stayed in a hotel in Ulswater in the Lake district last year. No mobile reception there or for miles around. Must be more than just a temporary irritation for the locals though. All this banging on about 5G and they haven't even got a mobile signal at all. Those narrow twisting roads are not a place to have an accident or the car break down either.

  5. JohnMurray

    I have two 4G masts within a 2 mile radius.

    Eventually, I will have a reasonable signal.

    #C[o]untryLife

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £1billion?

    Let's see - that'll be £500 million for new creative writing processes on the coverage maps, and £500 million to set up the new body, only just covering the costs of the board meetings in Bermuda.

    A cynical or experienced comment?

    1. steelpillow Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: £1billion?

      I was thinking more £100M for kit rollout and £900M for planning applications, appeals and inquiries. NAAONB - Not Another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, MMFS - Mind My Frikkin' Sheep, and all that.

  7. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Scotland, for example, will see 4G coverage from at least one operator rise from 80 per cent today to 91 per cent by 2025. Wales will also see a sizeable improvement, going from 89 per cent to 95 per cent.

    'x' per cent of what? Population or land mass? I suspect the former, as there's no way I'd believe Scotland has 4G covering 80% of the landmass....last time I was in the lower bit of the Highlands, it was sometimes a struggle to get anything above GPRS. I reckon 91% coverage by population could be achievable while still leaving a lot of land without coverage.

  8. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    My google Fi phone works virtually everywhere in the UK.

  9. G R Goslin

    I'll not be holding my breath

    I'm still waiting for a 3g signal, despite a fair number of promises, stretching back years.

  10. Anonymouse-Cowherd

    Elon

    Won't Elon Musk's fleet of satellites deliver "Space-phone 9G" (or whatever the heck it's called) before all this prehistoric mast nonsense reaches the rurals?

  11. GordonScally

    I live in a small town 16 miles outside of Glasgow. The 4G signal goes up and down like a yoyo often nothing. Nhs mobile workers rely on 4g for working away from the office! EE of course claim there is full coverage. It's not like we are actually in the Highlands.

  12. Pete4000uk

    ESN

    EE will need to cover a LOT more area for the emergency services to get coverage as they do with Airwave

  13. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
    WTF?

    Kilometers...?

    Why's a UK government dept putting out coverage figures of a proposed UK network enhancement, by UK service prodivers, for rural UK areas, in kilometers? Did we go fully metric overnight or something? Seems odd for a country that typically measures distance - especially roads and large areas - in miles and square miles. Maybe they know something we don't...

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