EE completed the first stage of work for the UK’s Shared Rural Network (SRN) initiative ahead of a deadline in June, stating it had now connected more than 1,600 remote communities to its 4G network. 

The operator stated it had met the necessary requirements six months ahead of schedule, with the first phase of the £1 billion SRN project requiring the UK’s four major operators to upgrade or build mobile infrastructure and extend the reach of their 4G connectivity to eliminate partial not-spots, areas which receive coverage from at least one operator, but not all of them.

Following the SRN upgrades, EE said its network provides geographic 4G coverage in 94 per cent of England, 89 per cent of Northern Ireland, 77 per cent of Scotland and 86 per cent of Wales. 

EE asserted it already operates the country’s largest 4G network, stating “extensive upgrades” delivered under the programme enabled it to broaden its coverage by a further 10,000 square-kilometres.

Chief networks officer Greg McCall said the progress signifies “another major milestone” in efforts to close the digital divide. 

“From farmers in Northern Ireland and local businesses in the Scottish Highlands, to tourists in the Lake District or Eryri National Park, EE is delivering the reliable mobile connectivity Britain’s rural communities need.” 

The second phase of the SRN programme will require the UK’s operators to deploy new, shared masts to bring 4G to unconnected areas by 2027, with the rollouts to be financed by the government.