Virgin Media O2’s Shared Rural Network rollout reaches new heights, as helicopters deliver its 100th site on the Isle of Skye

  • Virgin Media O2 has hit a major milestone after it rolled out reliable 4G coverage across 100 rural sites as part of its commitment to the £1bn Shared Rural Network programme
  • Isle of Skye became the 100th site to be delivered by Virgin Media O2, with helicopters delivering 4G masts to remote sites on Scotland’s second largest island
  • The operator’s SRN rollout continues at pace, with further rural communities set to benefit from reliable mobile coverage in the near future

13 February 2024: Virgin Media O2 has hit a major milestone in the Shared Rural Network programme after upgrading or building 100 company-managed sites, providing residents, businesses and visitors in rural communities with faster and more reliable mobile coverage than ever before.

The milestone means Virgin Media O2 has gone further than any other operator to date to deliver new infrastructure as part of the SRN programme. These 100 sites are controlled by Virgin Media O2, but customers of Three and Vodafone are also benefitting from the operator’s extensive rollout. Taking into account the progress of Three and Vodafone, Virgin Media O2’s customers can now benefit from reliable 4G services at 146 rural locations.

Isle of Skye, the second-largest island in Scotland, became the 100th site to benefit from improved mobile connectivity after Virgin Media O2 used helicopters to deliver and install new 4G masts to the island.

The SRN is a £1billion joint initiative between mobile network operators and the UK Government to extend 4G connectivity to 95% of the UK’s landmass by the end of 2025.

Of the 100 rural sites that have been built or upgraded by Virgin Media O2 so far, 78 are in some of the most remote parts of Scotland, including Shetland, Ardross, and Argyll & Bute, while 19 are in rural parts of England, including parts of Yorkshire, Suffolk and Kent, and three are in Northern Ireland.

The upgrades provide customers with faster and more reliable mobile data and higher quality voice calls, transforming coverage in areas with previously patchy or slow services.

Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “We’re going to extreme lengths connecting the most remote corners of the UK to deliver our share of the Shared Rural Network.

“This investment is vital to ensure we provide fast and reliable coverage to all areas of the UK. With so much of our modern life taking place online, rural communities deserve the same standard of mobile connectivity as those in urban areas, and we’re proud to be stepping up and playing our part.

“The 100 sites we have delivered will mean that more residents, businesses and visitors in rural areas can benefit from better mobile coverage, with more locations to follow in the coming months. This work is vital in tackling the urban-rural digital divide that exists in the UK.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • The Shared Rural Network was developed by the UK’s four mobile network operators (Virgin Media O2, EE, Three and Vodafone) and Government, with the aim of improving rural connectivity.
  • By upgrading existing networks and working together on shared infrastructure and new sites, the MNOs and Government will transform mobile coverage in rural areas.
  • To deliver the programme, MNOs will invest a total of £532m to eliminate the majority of ‘partial not-spots’ – areas which receive coverage from at least one, but not all, operators. The UK Government will provide a further £500m to build new masts to eliminate ‘total not-spots’ – hard to reach areas where there is currently no coverage at all.
  • SRN is a sustainable approach to the challenge of delivering rural mobile coverage. The programme will transform 4G coverage without duplicating infrastructure, minimising the impact on our countryside.

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Source: O2 Blog