Published On: Tue, Apr 9th, 2024

Victory for Express fight to get rural Britain connected! | Politics | News

Tens of thousands in the Lake District will enjoy better mobile phone coverage from today in a win for the Express’s campaign to get rural Britain connected.

People living, working and travelling near the market town of Keswick in Cumbria will benefit from the first of 83 Government-funded 4G mast upgrades.

The planned work in England is part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) – a joint £1billion programme with telecoms firms to improve rural mobile coverage.

More than 4,000 permanent residents in the popular tourist hotspot and about 20,000 yearly visitors can now access fast and reliable mobile phone signal – regardless of which operators they are signed up with.

READ MORE: Rural Brits furious as report issues warning over £15bn Vodafone-Three merger

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez claims the measures her department is taking in the Lake District today will help to reduce “not spot” areas and safeguard a “prosperous future for local communities”.

She told the Daily Express: “This £1billion upgrade programme is not just boosting coverage, but forging connections amongst communities, businesses, and opportunities.

“In the heart of the Lake District and beyond, our commitment to expanding mobile coverage extends beyond signal bars.

“It’s about making communication easier for everyone and enabling individuals to seize opportunities, whether they are running a business, pursuing an education, or simply staying connected with loved ones.

“In an increasingly digital world, connectivity is not a luxury—it is a necessity – that everyone, in every part of the UK, deserves.

“By reducing the number and size of mobile ‘not spots,’ we are making huge progress in spreading connectivity across the UK.

“From small businesses to local artisans, from farmers to tourists, everyone stands to benefit from this enhanced connectivity.

“With improved internet connection, tasks such as remote work, online education, and accessing essential services become far simpler, laying the groundwork for a more connected and prosperous future for local communities.”

Ben Roome, CEO of Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited, said: “In England, since the Shared Rural Network was announced in March 2020, 4G coverage from all four operators has expanded across an additional 5,400 square kilometres – an area larger than Norfolk.

“As more shared mobile sites go live, people visiting and living in rural areas will see better 4G service thanks to this programme.”

The Daily Express has also reported on the first phase of a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) probe into the planned UK merger between Vodafone and Three as well as a National Audit Office (NAO) report warning the SRN scheme was falling behind schedule.

The CMA has now confirmed it will launch, as expected, a Phase 2 investigation into the proposed merger after Phase 1 of its probe found the deal could leave millions of Brits worse off.

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