Mobile network operator EE is rolling out 4G coverage to 17 rural areas in the West Midlands.
The company is upgrading sites in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire in 2021, as part of the first phase of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) initiative.
The initiative – which is part-funded by the Government – aims to extend 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK in the next five years.
EE has already upgraded its 4G network in 25 locations across England since the SRN deal was signed in March 2020 to bring improved connectivity to each nation.
Several sites have already been upgraded in the West Midlands in the past 12 months, with 17 in total to be completed by the end of the year.
The locations due to be upgraded in 2021 include the A480 Lyonshall in Herefordshire as well as Lea, M50 Linton, Pencombe, Peterstow and Stoke Lacy, also in Herefordshire.
Areas in Shropshire include the A49 Leebotwood, A53 Hodnet, Cleobury Mortimer, Llanyblodwel and Moreton Corbet.
Cotton, Stowe-by Chartley and Walford, all in Staffordshire, are also being upgraded as well as Priors Marston in Stratford-upon Avon, Little Malvern in Worcestershire and Belbroughton in Bromsgrove.
Across the UK, a total of 579 locations are to benefit from the extended EE 4G coverage by the end of 2021 – 333 in England, 132 in Scotland, 76 in Wales, and 38 in Northern Ireland.
Matt Warman, minister for digital infrastructure, said: “I’m delighted to see the great strides EE is making to boost 4G services in countryside communities as part of the Shared Rural Network agreement, which was brokered and is part funded by the government.
“We’re investing half a billion pounds in this landmark deal to extend mobile coverage to 95 per cent of the UK and it will help us build back better from the pandemic.”
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Philip Jansen, chief executive of BT Group, added: “Reliable connectivity is important wherever you live, work or travel, and we’re committed to improving and adding coverage to even the most remote areas.
“The investment BT has made in rural areas to date means we already have the infrastructure in place needed to extend our 4G coverage footprint further, minimising the number of new sites we need to build.
“There are many places where EE is the only provider with 4G coverage today, offering the other operators an opportunity to share our existing sites to plug gaps in their networks and improve mobile performance for everyone.”