In an attempt to increase broadband coverage, the UK government has proposed a shared network plan that would see the rollout of high-quality 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2025.
Under the terms of the proposal, a £1bn deal would see the nation’s largest mobile network operators – EE, Three UK, O2 and Vodafone – providing a total investment of £530m, in addition to £500m from the government.
The funds are to be invested into a shared rural network of new and existing phone masts, providing broadband coverage, primarily targeted at rural areas, to 280,000 homes and businesses and 16,000km of roads.
The shared investment costs by the telcos is what is novel about this deal, which will also see telcos enjoy the benefits collectively from the existing and expanded masts and infrastructure.
Additionally, government-owned telecom infrastructure may be made available to all the telcos involved. This would ensure consumers achieve high quality 4G signal, in even the most rural areas of the UK, because it will not matter which operator they have subscribed to.
The investment could potentially provide an additional 2 per cent geographic coverage for each operator.
Although the investment plan has not yet been legalised, the government expects the agreement to be formalised in early 2020.
Despite 5G being launched already in the UK, 4G still provides relatively fast broadband speeds and is still the dominant mobile technology in the country.
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