Vodafone has expanded 4G coverage in rural Wales with the first sharing deal completed under the new Shared Rural Network (SRN) initiative.
Devauden, a small village in the Wye Valley near Chepstow, is the first rural community to receive new mobile coverage under the £1bn SRN programme.
The Shared Rural Network is a joint initiative between government and the UK’s four mobile network operators. The programme aims to use mast sharing on existing sites in rural areas where some, but not all providers, have coverage. It also plans to build new-shared masts to connect areas that currently have no coverage at all.
Vodafone UK Chief Executive Officer, Nick Jeffery, 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.”
Digital Infrastructure Minister, Matt Warman, said: “Residents and businesses in Devauden will soon be getting better mobile coverage as it becomes the first village to benefit from our £1bn 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% of the UK by 2025 and means people will benefit from a good signal wherever they live, work or travel.”
Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters MS, said: “The ability to be connected wherever you are is becoming increasingly important, no more so than under the current circumstances.
“To have the first site-sharing deal in the UK under the Shared Rural Network initiative in rural Wales is fantastic. People living in and around Devauden will now have greater choice about which provider they choose and it will help support local businesses.”
Bringing mobile and internet services to rural communities scattered across hard-to-reach parts of the country has always been difficult, and expensive. Mountains, valleys, waterways and woodlands are all barriers to building essential infrastructure. By sharing sites, Shared Rural Network will make rural coverage more cost-effective and less disruptive.