Report warns that the UK government’s rural 4G program is lagging behind schedule

The National Audit Office (NAO) report underscores delays in the UK government’s rural 4G expansion efforts, focusing on the Shared Rural Network program. This initiative aims for 95% 4G coverage nationwide by 2025 but faces hurdles in meeting interim targets. Challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, local opposition, and slow mast location progress have hampered progress. Escalating costs and uncertainties cast doubt on meeting coverage goals within budget cons

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A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) highlights delays in the UK government’s rural 4G connectivity expansion plans. The Shared Rural Network program, aimed at achieving 95% 4G coverage across the UK by 2025, is struggling to meet interim targets, with only one network reaching its goal so far. Challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, opposition from local groups, and slow progress in finalizing mast locations have contributed to the setbacks. Rising costs and uncertainties raise concerns about the program’s ability to meet coverage targets within the allocated funding.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) business case predicts over £1.35 billion in economic benefits from the rural mobile coverage scheme, mainly aiding rural business and tourism. Yet, the NAO report critiques the lack of concrete evidence supporting these projections. It suggests enhancing oversight of mobile operators involved in the Shared Rural Network program to prioritize delivering 4G coverage and performance for both consumers and businesses.