This month the head of Vodafone UK has written to the Business and Trade Committee to reaffirm the company’s commitment to the Shared Rural Network.
In his letter to the committee, Andrea Dona, the Chief Network Officer for Vodafone UK, made reference to recent media reports which have revealed that the Shared Rural Network Programme is not on track to deliver by its deadlines. Mr Dona told MPs that:
“Vodafone remains committed to delivering on all elements of the SRN programme and we have successfully introduced 4G to rural locations across the UK as part of the wider project which is due for delivery by early 2027. We have recently gone live with on our 100th site, meaning our geographic 4G coverage across the whole of the UK has improved by 2.6% in real terms, and we are on track to deliver on our regulatory obligations in 2027.”
However, he said that a series of challenges, including the pandemic, had delayed the project. He also made reference to the ongoing delays in:
“Government implementing the new Electronic Communications Code as part of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act which is obstructing our ability to negotiate leasehold agreements with some landowners.”
He went on to say that:
“Given that SRN is a joint programme between Government and industry, we would seek agreement with Government before making public statements.”
He went onto stress that all sites go live as soon as they are built which means there is no lag in delivering coverage improvements and concluded by reaffirming Vodafone UK’s commitment to the project:
“We remain committed to delivering on all elements of the SRN programme and have successfully introduced 4G to rural locations across the UK as part of the wider project, which is due to be delivered by early 2027, and we will exhaust every option to do so on time.”
Mr Dona’s letter comes in the same month as Vodafone UK’s Connecting the Countryside report which revealed that the rural/urban digital divide is growing.
RSN Chief Executive, Kerry Booth, says the letter is well timed:
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