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The Loch Ness Monster might be pleased to see the latest upgrades from EE, but Loch Ness is just one of the locations to benefit from expansion of the company’s 4G network to 1,500 rural communities across the UK, making the benefits to rural communities far from mythical.

EE claims to be the first UK MNO to build or upgrade 1,500 remote sites under the UK government’s Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme, the £1 billion scheme aimed at delivering reliable mobile broadband to 95% of the UK by bringing 4G coverage to the areas that need it most.

Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group, commented: “From farming and fishing to hospitality and tourism, Britain’s countryside communities are vital to the success of the wider economy and BT Group’s huge investment into our mobile network infrastructure is delivering the connectivity boost local people and businesses need.”

Since signing up to the SRN deal in March 2020, EE has delivered more than 2,000 square miles of additional 4G connectivity to rural areas across the UK and claims their 4G network is the biggest and fastest in the UK, covering more than 99 percent of the population – claims supported by Rootmetrics UK Mobile Performance Review.

The tourist hotspot of Loch Ness in Scotland and surrounding villages along the River Moriston are the 1,500th site upgrade benefitting both residents and tourists alike. It is EE’s largest single SRN upgrade to date.

Julia Lopez, UK Government Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, said: “The improved connectivity being delivered by the Shared Rural Network is transforming countryside communities, boosting productivity and giving people reliable and fast mobile connectivity wherever they live.”

EE are not the only MNO developing the Shared Rural Network with other initiatives including the Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone initiatives in Peeblesshire and Rossshire, covered recently by Total Telecom, whilst more localised projects received a funding boost earlier this month with the Government announcement of the Rural England Prosperity Fund. Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said that driving investment in rural areas is a vital part of our vision for levelling up the country.

Although the SRN scheme involves only the UK’s four mobile network operators (MNOs) – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, they are far from the only players looking to enhance rural connectivity. Only yesterday at the Connected North conference in Manchester, Sean Royce, CEO of rural connectivity specialists Quickline Communications took to the stage in a fireside chat with Zen Internet’s Richard Tang and Spring Fibre’s Ros Singleton to debate the issues around connecting Northern Communities. Royce highlighted that he didn’t see the issue as a North South divide but rather as an urban rural divide.

To discuss the subject of rural communities and eliminating partial not-spots further, join Total Telecom for Connected Britain in London this September.

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