Craig Williams MP has welcomed news that Montgomeryshire is set to benefit from a major UK Government scheme, which will see high-speed mobile and broadband coverage significantly boosted across Wales.
The world-first £1billion Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme between the UK Government and the UK’s four mobile network operators (MNOs) will see 4G coverage boosted to 95% across Wales, with Montgomeryshire and Mid Wales set to be the biggest benefactors.
The SRN will see EE, O2, Three and Vodafone build and upgrade phone masts to end partial ‘not-spot’ areas where only some, but not all, MNOs provide 4G coverage. These not-spots currently prevent many rural customers from accessing differing MNO contracts unless they are signed up with a specific provider who has a mast within the area.
Figures released by the SRN programme forecast that the Mid & West Wales region’s 4G coverage from all four MNOs will be boosted to 78%, up from 51% last year. Coverage will also increase from 86% to 97% via at least one mobile operator.
The UK Government brokered deal will see 4G coverage from all four MNOs increase across Wales by more than one third from 58% to 80%, with 95% of the population in range of at least one mobile network – up from 90% in 2020.
The UK Government have also announced that 234,000 rural Welsh properties stuck with slow broadband speeds will be in scope for gigabit upgrades under the Government’s £5billion Project Gigabit scheme. This will prioritise areas which currently have slow connections, and which would otherwise have been left behind in broadband companies’ rollout plans. The UK Government will set out the timeline for delivery of these connections once it has agreed the procurement process with the Welsh Government.
Welcoming the announcement, Craig Williams MP said:
“The Government’s Shared Rural Network programme is fantastic news for Montgomeryshire and Mid Wales, and is a major step forwarding in eradicating mobile not-spots within the region once and for all.
“I am extremely pleased that the UK Government is so committed to levelling up the digital playing field across every part of Wales, no matter how rural or isolated. These plans will ensure that many more of us across Montgomeryshire can look forward to sweeping coverage of fast and reliable 4G within our homes and when out and about, and a next-generation gigabit broadband connection when at home or at work.
“There is of course still much more work to do to ensure everyone has the connectivity we require, but I am extremely encouraged that Montgomeryshire is well on the way to achieving full digital prosperity.”