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Virgin Media O2 Deploy 4G at 50 UK Rural Mobile Masts Under SRN

Monday, May 15th, 2023 (9:49 am) - Score 3,104

Mobile operator O2 (VMO2) has today confirmed that they’ve so far deployed “reliable4G based mobile broadband coverage across a total of 50 rural sites in the United Kingdom, which forms part of their commitment under the £1bn industry-led Shared Rural Network (SRN) project with the Government.

In case you forgot, the SRN – supported by a public investment of £500m and £532m from all four primary operators (EE, O2, Vodafone and Three UK) – aims to help extend geographic 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by the end of 2025 (it will also aid the 5G rollout). The scheme involves both the reciprocal sharing of existing masts in certain areas and the demand-led building and sharing of new masts in others.

NOTE: The SRN states that it will aim to provide guaranteed coverage to an additional 280,000 UK premises, 16,000km of roads and boost ‘in car’ coverage on around 45,000 km of road, as well as better indoor coverage for around 1.2 million premises.

However, the 95% coverage target is only when the 4G service is available from at least one operator, while the UK coverage forecast for SRN completion for all operators (i.e. geographic areas where you’ll be able to take 4G from all four operators) is actually just 84% for the same date.


As part of that, O2 has today confirmed that they’ve delivered 4G connectivity across 50 sites under the SRN – an area covering almost 2,200km2. The village of Helmsdale in Scotland’s Highlands region became the 50th site to benefit from 4G connectivity after they upgraded an existing mast in the area. In fact, some 39 of those 50 sites have all been in Scotland. The other 11 are in eastern parts of England, including rural parts of Yorkshire, Suffolk and Kent.

The operator has also secured planning consent for works at a further 100 sites, meaning work can start in the near future.

Jeanie York, CTO of Virgin Media O2, said:

“We are investing heavily in our network to ensure we’re offering fast and reliable mobile coverage to customers in all parts of the UK. We know many rural communities are unable to access the same level of connectivity as urban areas so we’re committed to delivering improvements through the Shared Rural Network programme.

Boosting connectivity at 50 sites is a real milestone and means more residents, businesses and tourists in rural areas can benefit from better mobile coverage. In the weeks and months ahead we’ll continue pushing forward with our rural investments, building new masts and upgrading existing ones across various remote UK locations as we work to tackle the urban-rural digital divide.”

The news follows shortly after Vodafone revealed that its work under the SRN had similarly deployed 4G to 57 rural locations in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland under the programme (here). Similarly, EE claims to have delivered 4G to over 1,500 remote sites under the same programme (here), which they said reflected more than 2,000 square miles (5,180km2) of additional 4G connectivity for rural areas.

List of VMO2’s First 50 Rural SRN Sites

Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross

Alford, Aberdeenshire

Ballater, Aberdeenshire

Banff, Aberdeenshire

Beauly, Highland

Bellingham, Northumberland

Buckie, Moray

Callander, Stirling

Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute

Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute



Colonsay, Argyll and Bute

Darwell Wood, East Sussex

Dunoon, Argyll and Bute

Dunoon, Argyll and Bute

Haddington, East Lothian

Hailsham, Wealden

Helmsdale, Highland

Inverness, Highland



Isle of Arran

Isle of Bute, Argyll and Bute

Isle of Harris, Hebrides

Isle of Harris, Hebrides

Isle of Lewis, Hebrides

Isle of Lewis, Hebrides

Isle of Lewis, Hebrides

Isle of Mull, Argyll and Bute

Isle of Mull, Argyll and Bute

Isle of Mull, Argyll and Bute

Isle of North Uist, Hebrides

Isle of Sky, Hebrides

Knockendoch, Dumfries

Kyle, Highland

Lairg, Highland

Lairg, Highland

Maidstone (Kent)

Newport on Tay, Fife

Oakham, Rutland


Perth, Perth and Kinross

Selkirk, Scottish Borders

Sheerness, Swale (Kent)


Tadcaster, Leeds

Tain, Highland

Tighnabruaich, Argyll and Bute

Walkerburn, Scottish Borders

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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5 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Obi says:

    This is always welcome news. Curious to know what the overlap is like of coverage between the big 4

    1. Avatar photo Obi says:

      *in planned work, not current levels

  2. Avatar photo Jack says:

    I wonder where the Maidstone site is.

  3. Avatar photo Guy Cashmore says:

    SRN progress is pathetically slow, not a single site in Devon which is one of the worst areas in England for partial not-spots (according to the published SRN maps). Total not-spots are actually quite rare, so very few completely new cell sites are needed, just a lot more S in SRN..

  4. Avatar photo Joe G says:

    4G. Don’t make me laugh. Why not future proof and put up 5G.

Comments are closed

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