Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has welcomed today’s signing of the Shared Rural Network agreement by the four major mobile network operators. Mr Carmichael previously met with the then-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media & Sport, Nicky Morgan, to discuss the plans before last year’s election. The deal is intended to take 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2025, with guaranteed coverage for 280,000 premises and 16,000km of roads.
Networks have committed to investing £532m to close almost all partial not-spots: areas where there is currently only coverage from at least one but not all operators. This is backed by £500 million of government funding to eliminate total not-spots: areas with no coverage from any operator. The Government has also pledged £5 billion to subsidise the roll out of gigabit capable broadband.
Mr Carmichael said:
“A final agreement on the Shared Rural Network is welcome news for the isles. The slow progress on establishing basic connectivity for businesses and individuals in the Northern Isles has been deeply frustrating. Concrete action to remedy this problem can only be a good thing.
“This, however, is only the first step. I have been led to understand that the first upgrades to the network are to begin in the Autumn, and we will be looking for swift action.”
“With a plan in place and an agreement signed there can be no more excuses. By 2025 islanders will rightly expect an end to coverage not-spots and the arrival of a mobile network fit for purpose.”