VMO2 finishes off first stage of SRN with ‘UK’s highest mobile mast’

Virgin Media O2 says it has completed the first phase of its Shared Rural Network (SRN) rollout, with the final ‘partial not-spot site’ installed at Glencoe Mountain Resort.

Andrew Wooden

July 1, 2024

2 Min Read

VMO2 says the site, standing at 1,108 metres above sea level, is the highest mobile mast in the UK, and that the operator has ‘built more shared sites than any other operator to improve mobile coverage’ with 227 partial not-spot areas across the UK ticked off.

Those 227 sites are controlled by Virgin Media O2, but Three and Vodafone can also connect to the shared sites. VMO2 customers specifically can now access 4G services in more than 300 former coverage black spots, it says.

The new mast will deliver connectivity to Glencoe Mountain Resort, which is apparently Scotland’s oldest ski centre. VMO2 says it was a pain to put up as well, with extreme weather conditions ‘making delivery exceptionally difficult.’ Glencoe is also a National Nature Reserve and home to endangered species, including golden eagles and ptarmigans, we’re told, and the operator worked with build partner WHP Telecoms to deliver the site in five weeks.

The SRN is a partnership of sorts between government and mobile operators to extend 4G coverage to rural areas, targeting 95% 4G landmass coverage by December 2025, and the cost burden is shared, with the operators contributing £532 million and the government £501 million.

The first phase of the programme required each operator to build a set number of new and upgraded sites by the end of June to tackle partial not spots.

“We are absolutely committed to bringing reliable mobile connectivity to more rural communities and have now completed the first phase of our SRN rollout,” said Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at VMO2. “Our 227th site at Glencoe is now the highest mast in the UK and one of the most impressive to date, standing over a kilometre above sea level and providing connectivity to the nearby ski resort. This work is vital in tackling the urban-rural digital divide that exists in the UK.”

Last week, a report commissioned by EE was published, tasked with analysing the economic and social impact that improved mobile connectivity can bring to different types of rural communities. Comparing the amount invested in individual mast sites and the impact that that investment has on the local community ‘leads to a mixed picture which is largely driven by the number of local residents covered by the improved 4G signal,’ claimed the report.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins Telecoms.com on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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