Following a campaign I led in Parliament I am delighted that the UK’s four mobile network operators are to expand 4G coverage in Thirsk and Malton. This will improve rural connectivity in 2021 as part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme and include the National Parks and other partial not spots (PNS).
The SRN is a £1 billion programme between the UK’s four mobile network operators and Government to extend 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by the middle of this decade.
EE has already activated 6 new 4G mobile masts in the constituency. This means EE 4G coverage has grown to 85% of Thirsk and Malton. It plans to upgrade a further 5 existing EE masts in Thirsk and Malton as part of delivering on the SRN during the course of 2021 which will include areas around Castle Howard (YO60 7DA), Kirby Misperton (YO17 6UX) and three sites in Pickering (YO18 8AD, YO18 8BP and YO18 7JA). O2, Three and Vodafone will also partner together to build and share 5 proposed new masts in the constituency, all of which are still subject to planning permission and consultation with local communities.
In 2019 I led a group of 78 cross-party MPs representing rural constituencies to call on the Government to support a proposal by the mobile industry to create the Shared Rural Network to extend mobile coverage to hard to reach areas. One of my priorities since I was elected in 2015 is to improve connectivity in some of our most remote rural spots, including in our National Parks. It makes no sense that you can make mobile calls to people living thousands of miles away from some parts of the constituency and yet there is no coverage at all in other very remote areas. Digital connectivity is now vital in every part of modern life for work, leisure and emergencies and I am determined that no constituent will miss out.
Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group, said: “Reliable connectivity is important wherever you live, work or travel, and we’re committed to improving and adding coverage to even the most remote areas. The investment BT has made in rural areas to date means we already have the infrastructure in place needed to extend our 4G coverage footprint further, minimising the number of new sites we need to build. There are many places where EE is the only provider with 4G coverage today, offering the other operators an opportunity to share our existing sites to plug gaps in their networks and improve mobile performance for everyone.”
The Home Office is also due to deliver 5 new 4G sites in the constituency under the Extended Areas Services Programme and this will cover areas where there is little or no coverage from any of the mobile network operators.