Residents and businesses in the southern Lake District are set to benefit from improved 4G mobile coverage following the upgrade of two EE masts
The Lake District is the most visited national park in the UK, with upwards of 15 million visitors every year. However, it is also an area that has previously been poorly served in terms of mobile coverage.
The EE mobile masts have been upgraded this summer as part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN)*, a £1 billion initiative to extend 4G connectivity to rural communities, with the aim to cover 95 percent of the UK’s geography by the end of 2025.
One of the upgraded masts is located between Coniston Water and Windermere, bringing coverage to locations including Hay Bridge Nature Reserve, Rusland and parts of Grizedale Forest. The other is to the southeast of Windermere Lake, providing improved coverage to rural areas including Cartmel Fell, Whitbarrow National Nature Reserve and down towards the River Kent estuary and Milnthorpe – including a large section of the A590.
To balance the desire for enhanced mobile connectivity in rural communities with the need to respect the natural landscape, both masts are situated in non-intrusive areas while providing maximum benefit.
These upgrades come at an important time for countryside communities as the UK’s mobile providers prepare to retire 3G – and later 2G – networks. 4G connectivity offers remote communities the biggest and most reliable network of any current mobile technology in the UK.
Welcoming the news, Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said: “This improved connectivity can deliver a big boost to rural communities like ours, supporting residents, local businesses and visitors with faster 4G mobile internet access and high-quality, reliable calling.
“The Lake District is one of the most iconic parts of the British countryside, so it is great to see remote areas getting the infrastructure they need to thrive in the digital age.”
The new connectivity has also been welcomed by a farming leader in the region, highlighting how important good 4G mobile coverage has become to farm businesses and for helping to improve safety in remote areas.
NFU Cumbria County chairman Ian Bowness, who farms at Wigton, said: “We welcome this significant investment as it will help some of our farm businesses who have historically struggled with connectivity issues. Submitting VAT returns, GPS on tractors, talking to customers and much more, all rely on strong connectivity, and consistent access to the internet is needed for farmers so they can comply with UK regulations and operate their businesses efficiently.
“Mobile signal is also critically important for health and safety, in an industry where farmers often need to work in remote areas on their own. The NFU will continue to campaign for investment in the country’s digital technology infrastructure, which is key to productive farming businesses.”
The SRN programme aims to use mast-sharing on existing sites in rural areas where some, but not all mobile networks, have coverage. It will also develop new-shared masts to connect areas that currently have no coverage at all.
Greg McCall, Chief Networks Officer at BT Group, said: “The Lake District is iconic for its natural beauty and its flourishing rural communities. These new 4G upgrades will not only mean residents will be able to stay connected to the people and things they love most, but businesses and community groups can use the network to offer new services and experiences to the millions of tourists who visit every year.
“Having upgraded more than 1,500 rural locations so far under the Shared Rural Network programme, EE is delivering the far-reaching connectivity that rural communities rely on across the UK.”
Hear from Howard Watson, Chief Security & Networks Officer at BT at this week’s Connected Britain – get last minute tickets now!
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