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Vodafone Reach First UK Village via 4G Shared Rural Network

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020 (12:00 pm) - Score 3,888

Mobile operator Vodafone has announced that the small village of Devauden in the Wye Valley (Wales) has become the first to receive a faster 4G based mobile (mobile broadband) service as part of the new £1bn Shared Rural Network (SRN), which aims to help extend geographic 4G cover to 95% of the UK by the end of 2025.

The industry-led scheme, which was finalised in March 2020 and is being supported by a public investment of £500m from the Government, essentially involves both the reciprocal sharing of existing masts in certain areas and the demand-led building and sharing of new masts in others between all four operators (Vodafone, Three UK, EE [BT] and O2).

In simple terms, by working together the operators can help to cut the cost of expanding coverage into rural areas. Meanwhile the SRN is being overseen by a jointly owned company called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited, which all together should guarantee coverage to 280,000 additional premises and 16,000km of roads.

Unfortunately Vodafone hasn’t provided any details about the exact approach they took in Devauden, but nevertheless it’s nice to see the first bit of progress being made, even if there’s still a very long way to go.

Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK CEO, said:

“Everyone should have mobile coverage, and everyone should have the benefit of a choice of networks. It is great that the industry has come together to improve coverage across the UK, and I’m proud that we’re leading the way. Our engineering team has done a great job in getting our coverage on to this site, despite the limitations of lockdown.”

Matt Warman, UK Digital Infrastructure Minister, said:

“Residents and businesses in Devauden will soon be getting better mobile coverage as it becomes the first village to benefit from our £1 billion deal with mobile phone companies to banish rural ‘not spots’ for good. Our world-leading Shared Rural Network will bring high-quality 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2025 and means people will benefit from a good signal wherever they live, work or travel.”

One issue we do have is with the lack of communication about which specific areas are likely to benefit and when. In the fixed line broadband sector operators tend to announce when upgrades or new deployments are due to take place, while mobile operators are sadly fairly coy with such information. But we expect more from a programme that involves so much public funding.

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Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. Avatar Chris says:

    Interesting – a quick check through planning applications and on Cellmapper suggests there’s an EE site to the north of the village that provides decent coverage. There’s also an additional new EE ESN mast that has planning permission to the South West of the village as well. No coverage on any other provider, however.

    Looks like this was an adaptation of an existing EE mast to allow Vodafone (and soon others one can assume). It also looks like there’s relatively low effort involved with planning applications (I couldn’t find one), so this can start to provide benefit quite rapidly in other places.

    Good to see this happening – Vodafone and O2’s mast share agreement has already greatly improved the coverage in many places in Scotland

    1. Avatar Mark says:

      Is it not in an Area of outstanding natural beauty? Everything here in turned down on ANOB and its detriment, and extensive planning process, they even turned down a telegraph pole mast.

    2. Avatar Unclekeypax says:

      just imagine if they would do the same with fibre broadband in the overbuilt areas to bring real fire to customers. communist propaganda over. move along

    3. Avatar Steve says:

      The picture looks like the existing O2 mast in the North of the village built in 2018. It’s right next to a much shorter EE mast which has been carefully cropped out leaving just their cabinets showing. As Vodafone & O2 shared many of their new build masts prior to the SRN agreement, it’s perhaps not the best example of SRN…

  2. Avatar Mark says:

    Is that photo the actual mast? Let’s hope it’s more successful than MIP, I suspect the local opposition will play a big part in the Shared Rural Network and its success,would be nice to have decent coverage in the Cotswold town I live in, but the locals will put pay to that.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      The thin green pole in the bottom picture? Yes that’s a fairly typical low height 4G mast, probably with fairly limited coverage.

  3. Avatar Michael V says:

    This is great news that the SRN is actually moving forward. [I expect operators will focus on their low band 4G voice networks for maximum coverage.] Really hope that they get many rural areas covered over the coming years.

  4. Avatar Mark says:

    Really need to identify the areas which have population first, say 3000 pop upwards, decide on a location and have a procedure in place to prevent council, the local vocal minority and landowners prevent building, with MIP they arguing over colours to paint the mast,the populated areas of UK should of been sorted by now, this may work existing structures, but new build and the Anti 5G brigade, it’s going to be tough time.

    1. Avatar Michael V says:

      I agree with Mark. There must be agreements in place to prevent the blocking of new masts.
      Many complain of poor connectivity but protest against possible sites in or around a village.
      Mobile network Operators should not disclose what network they are deploying as Anti 5G nutters will go crazy.

  5. Avatar Guy Cashmore says:

    I’ll let you know when our local coverage problem is resolved here in West Devon, it has existed for over 30 years. Half the parish has O2 & Voda coverage only, the other half has EE & Three only, this problem can be traced back to Cellnet and Vodafone analogue days.

  6. Avatar Leo Hughes says:

    HI, I live in Milton Abbas in Dorset and a couple of years ago after getting past the local planners and going to appeal we won the fight for permission for a mast installation to be done by Vodafone or their agents. The ink was just drying on the application grant only for Vodafone to pull out of the install leaving us with much effort spent and no solution re mobile connectivity. Then came along ESN with the ‘promise’ from EE that we would be able to link through that infrastructure only to find out months later UK Gov money had run out. Now this but how do we get something we have been waiting years for……

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