London, 26 May 2021 – Real Wireless, the world’s leading independent wireless experts, today announced its appointment as Independent Assessor of the UK’s Shared Rural Network initiative by the Government’s Department of Digital, Media, Culture & Sport (DCMS).
In a planned 5-year engagement, Real Wireless CEO Mark Keenan takes the role of Project Director.
Real Wireless will act as the independent assessor for the TNS (Total Not Spots) aspects of the SRN rollout. TNS areas are those parts of the country where, to date, it has been considered commercially unviable for mobile operators to provide coverage.
Mark Keenan, CEO Real Wireless said: ‘We’re delighted to be part of this innovative initiative by the UK Government to connect the unconnected. This is a timely and pragmatic solution to an old problem and Real Wireless is looking forward to working with all the stakeholders to make it happen. We are also delighted to be able to work in association with Gary Stuart who will be leading this programme and carry out the function of the Independent Assessor for and on behalf of Real Wireless.’
On 9 March 2020, the UK Government announced it had entered into an agreement with the four mobile operators – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – to provide grant funding to deliver a ‘Shared Rural Network’. The Shared Rural Network programme will see government and industry jointly invest to increase 4G mobile coverage throughout the United Kingdom to 95% geographic coverage by the end of the programme, underpinned by license obligations.
With funding now available for the TNS element of the network, both the government and the operators remain confident that combined coverage will be delivered to 95% of UK geography by the end of 2025, with areas around the UK starting to see improvements to 4G coverage long before completion. Coverage improvements will be subject to finding suitable sites, obtaining power supply and backhaul and securing the necessary permissions through the planning system. Coverage will also be subject to the availability of Extended Areas Service (EAS) sites as part of the Home Office’s Emergency Services Network (ESN)
The Shared Rural Network aims to provide coverage to 280,000 premises and 16,000km of roads, with the biggest improvements in Scotland and Wales.