Virgin Media O2 has achieved a significant breakthrough in the Shared Rural Network (SRN) program by upgrading or erecting 100 company-managed sites, enhancing mobile coverage in rural communities across the UK.
This milestone demonstrates Virgin Media O2’s commitment to expanding infrastructure under the SRN initiative, surpassing other operators in delivering new connectivity. The 100 sites, managed by Virgin Media O2, extend benefits not only to its own customers but also to users of Three and Vodafone networks. When combined with the progress made by Three and Vodafone, Virgin Media O2’s customers can now access reliable 4G services at 146 rural locations.
The Isle of Skye, the second-largest island in Scotland, recently became the recipient of improved mobile connectivity, serving as the 100th site to benefit from Virgin Media O2’s efforts. The company utilized helicopters to deliver and install new 4G masts, ensuring enhanced coverage on the island.
The SRN, a £1 billion collaborative initiative between mobile network operators and the UK Government, aims to extend 4G connectivity to 95 percent of the UK’s landmass by the end of 2025.
Of the 100 rural sites upgraded or built by Virgin Media O2, 78 are situated in remote parts of Scotland, including Shetland, Ardross, and Argyll & Bute. Additionally, 19 sites are located in rural areas of England, encompassing regions such as Yorkshire, Suffolk, and Kent, with three sites in Northern Ireland.
These upgrades offer customers faster and more reliable mobile data services along with higher-quality voice calls, addressing previous deficiencies in coverage in areas with limited or sluggish services.
Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2, emphasized the company’s dedication to bridging the urban-rural digital divide by extending connectivity to even the most remote areas of the UK. York highlighted the importance of providing equitable mobile coverage across all regions and reaffirmed Virgin Media O2’s commitment to enhancing connectivity in rural communities.
The completion of 100 sites under the SRN program signifies a significant step forward in advancing mobile connectivity in rural areas and underscores Virgin Media O2’s role in addressing digital disparities across the UK.
The Shared Rural Network was developed collaboratively by the UK’s four mobile network operators (Virgin Media O2, EE, Three, and Vodafone) and the Government to improve rural connectivity.
The SRN initiative involves upgrading existing networks and collaborating on shared infrastructure and new site installations to enhance mobile coverage in rural areas.
MNOs will collectively invest £532 million to eliminate the majority of ‘partial not-spots,’ while the UK Government will contribute an additional £500 million to establish new masts, targeting ‘total not-spots’ where there is currently no coverage.
SRN adopts a sustainable approach to rural mobile coverage expansion, minimizing infrastructure duplication and environmental impact.