UK chancellor to announce GBP1bn deal with cellcos to boost mobile coverage in ‘not-spots’

9 Mar 2020

As part of this week’s upcoming budget, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce a GBP1 billion (USD1.3 billion) deal with the nation’s mobile network operators (MNOs) which will see coverage improved in so-called ‘not-spots’. A report in The Financial Times states that the deal between the government and domestic cellcos EE, O2 UK, Three UK and Vodafone UK, is designed to significantly improve 4G coverage, particularly in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It is understood that, under the proposals, 4G coverage will be extended to around 280,000 premises and along 16,000km of roads, mainly in rural areas. With the four MNOs expected to invest GBP530 million to achieve such a goal, the government will contribute an additional GBP500 million to the project. With the MNOs reportedly expected to share existing masts in order to tackle partial not-spots as part of the scheme, the state’s investment will focus on eliminating those areas with no coverage at all.

Meanwhile, the report also notes that this week’s budget announcement (scheduled for 11 March) will confirm long-promised funding for a GBP5 billion fibre rollout in rural areas. Under the plans, government investment is expected to help bring full fibre connectivity to the hardest-to-reach 20% of the country’s premises, benefiting more than five million homes and businesses.

United Kingdom, EE, Hutchison 3G UK (Three UK), O2 UK, Vodafone UK