Cumbria first to benefit from £1bn upgrade in 4G mobile

Towns and villages in the Lake District have become the first in England to benefit as the UK government delivers on its plan to improve 4G mobile coverage in “hard-to-reach” areas.

The first of 83 government-funded mast upgrades planned in England were switched on Tuesday near Keswick in Cumbria.

“It means dozens of local businesses and community organisations in areas including Naddle, Thirlmere and St Johns-in-the-Vale, can now take advantage of better connectivity thanks to the Shared Rural Network – a £1 billion programme brokered by the government and joint-funded with mobile network operators aimed at increasing mobile coverage in rural areas,” said the UK’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

“The boost has been carried out by upgrading existing mobile masts which previously only connected EE customers and anyone making 999 calls, meaning communities can benefit from improved connectivity without the visual impact involved when building new masts.

“It will enable residents, tourists and businesses to access reliable 4G coverage from all four mobile network operators – EE, VMO2, Three and Vodafone – closing the connectivity blackhole and boosting economic growth in the region …

“Today marks an important milestone in the rollout of the Shared Rural Network aiming to bring reliable 4G signal to 95 per cent of UK landmass by the end of 2025.

“Since the Shared Rural Network programme began in 2020, an additional 13,000 sq km – roughly the size of Northern Ireland or two million football pitches – have been able to receive coverage from all four operators, EE, Three VMO2 and Vodafone.

“The government and the UK’s four mobile network operators aim to provide coverage to an additional 280,000 premises and 16,000km of the UK’s roads.

“The programme also aims to improve geographic coverage to 79% of Areas of Natural Beauty, up from 51% before the programme launched, and 74% of National Parks up from 41%, benefitting millions of visitors every year.”