Mobile coverage has already improved a great deal in recent years – funded and delivered by the mobile industry. 4G coverage is now provided in almost all locations where there is a business case for doing so, including 99 per cent of properties. With Boris onside, we can boost connectivity across the country Opinion The SRN offers more for less: better 4G coverage across rural areas from all operators (instead of just one or two), at a cost which is a small fraction of the budgets for HS2, Crossrail, and the Prime Minister’s broadband pledge. This measure should replace the regulator Ofcom’s original intention to offer discounts of between £700m and £800m on certain licences in the next spectrum auction in exchange for improvement in rural connectivity. whatsapp The successful economies of the future will be those that effectively seize the potential of digital technology. It is particularly important that we in the UK take heed of this message, as businesses face ongoing uncertainty in the approach to the government’s Halloween Brexit deadline. The Shared Rural Network (SRN) is a programme of mobile digital infrastructure development and investment, put together collaboratively by the UK’s four mobile operators. Its objective is to improve mobile coverage massively in rural areas across the UK. Friday 2 August 2019 5:28 am The good news for the government is that there is a plan already on the table that will deliver more powerful results, at a quicker pace, for a fraction of the cost. To do otherwise would deprive businesses and consumers in rural Britain of better mobile coverage, and discourage the investment needed to deliver widespread connectivity, 5G leadership, and a successful economy. Tags: Digital economy It has been encouraging to see our new Prime Minister repeatedly state his commitment to deliver full-fibre broadband to every UK home by 2025. However, that timescale is challenging – only seven per cent of UK properties so far have full-fibre broadband – and it will cost about £30bn. If the government truly believes that mobile connectivity is an essential service, it must take the decisions that are required to enable its delivery. The implementation of the SRN can then begin to lift all-operator 4G landmass coverage from its current level of 67 per cent to 92 per cent. Alain Robert, known as the French ‘Spiderman’, uses his mobile phone after climbing the 231-meter high First Tower, the tallest skyscraper in France, at La Defense district in Courbevoie, outside Paris on May 10, 2012. Robert has climbed more than 100 of the world’s tallest buildings, including the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Sears Tower in the US city of Chicago and the 88-storey Jin Mao Building in Shanghai, China. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images) However, only 67 per cent of UK landmass receives 4G coverage from all four operators, and about seven per cent of the UK receives no 4G coverage at all. Over the past few months, we have had positive dialogue about the SRN with Ofcom and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Now is the time for the new government to be bold, continue the momentum and progress of those talks, and reach a full agreement. The government and Ofcom should also support the SRN by ensuring that all mobile operators are able to acquire contiguous blocks of spectrum, so that they can use it more efficiently, providing a better 5G service to customers and maximising the boost that 5G tech can give to the UK economy. Share That is why all four operators put together the SRN to transform and expand our respective rural digital infrastructure into a single network asset that we can all use and share. So what progress is being made to realise this potential? Well, all four UK mobile operators are launching 5G networks this year, providing a platform for new digital services that will leave no industrial sector untouched by the positive and transformational impact offered by this new technology. by Taboolaby TaboolaSponsored LinksSponsored LinksPromoted LinksPromoted LinksYou May LikeUnderstand Solar$0 Down Solar in Scottsdale. How Much Can You Save? 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City A.M.’s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M. Finally, there needs to be further reform of planning policy and easier access to government-owned properties that are in prime locations for digital infrastructure. But if the SRN is to achieve its fullest impact, the government must fund a programme of infrastructure expansion in rural areas by reducing the £200m annual spectrum licence fees paid by the industry. Main image credit: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images Mark EvansMark Evans is chief executive of O2.