The Shared Rural Network: everything you need to know

January 27, 2021

Sunset view British Mobile Operator Mast over field.

Enviable views, less traffic, and an all-round slower pace of life – living in a remote part of the UK can be idyllic. But it does have its drawbacks – the lack of 4G coverage being one. Without it, running a business, staying connected, and getting around can be so much harder.

But that’s all set to change with the Shared Rural Network.

What is the Shared Rural Network?

It’s a £1bn project funded by the UK’s mobile network operators and the UK Government to bring better connectivity to rural areas. The aim is to bring 4G coverage to 280,000 more homes and businesses and 16,000km of roads across the country.

Once completed, 95% of the UK will have reliable 4G coverage.

What’s the latest?

We’re working together with O2 and Vodafone to get started on the first stage of the Shared Rural Network. And have agreed to build and share over 220 new mobile masts across the UK, boosting rural coverage. This work will start this year and is due to be completed by 2024.

Robert Finnegan, CEO of Three UK, said:

“Mobile connectivity is absolutely critical for communities around the UK helping to support local economies and keeping people connected with their friends and family. The Shared Rural Network will have a transformative effect on coverage across the UK and it is great to be working with the rest of the industry to achieve this.”

Mark Evans, CEO of O2, said:

“The Shared Rural Network is a new and more collaborative way of delivering greater investment in infrastructure to improve mobile digital connectivity – a high impact enabler of economic growth.  I am delighted that O2 is working in partnership with other mobile operators to deliver the Shared Rural Network, which will support individuals, businesses and communities across rural Britain.”

Nick Jeffery, CEO of Vodafone UK, said:

“We know connectivity is vital and the only way to fill the holes in the UK’s mobile coverage is to work together. Our unique collaboration with O2 and Three will deliver 222 new sites in parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that need better connectivity. Delivering the Shared Rural Network will make a huge difference to communities across the UK.”

And here’s what the Shared Rural Network improvements will look like in each of the UK nations:


Scotland will get 124 new sites in areas including Orkney, the Cairngorms, and the Borders. This will see 4G coverage from all 4 operators increase to a minimum of 74%, from 42% in 2020.


Wales will get 33 new sites with improved areas including Pembrokeshire, Snowdonia National Park, and the Brecon Beacons. With 4G coverage from all 4 operators increasing from 58% in 2020, to a minimum of 80%.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland will get 11 new sites with 4G coverage from all 4 operators rising from 75% in 2020, to a minimum of 85%.


54 new sites will be built in England with 4G coverage from all 4 operators increasing to a minimum of 90%, from 81% in 2020.

For more information on the Shared Rural Network, head to