O2 pumps £45m into bringing better 4G to rural Britain

The move could increase rural business revenues by up to £141m a year

O2 has invested 45 million to enhance 4G technology across rural areas in the UK, boosting connectivity for up to 250,000 people in communities that currently have a sub-standard service.

The company, owned by Telefonica, explained it could have a significant positive impact on the local economy, potentially increasing revenues by up to 141m a year, or 41 million nationwide. The numbers came from a report commissioned by the company and conducted by researchers at Development Economics.

In total, O2 hopes to add 4G connectivity to 339 rural communities around the country, with industries such as rural manufacturers and transport making the biggest gains from having access to faster mobile broadband services.

"We know mobile has the power to make a real, positive difference to people's lives and businesses in rural communities across Britain. That's why we're proud to be investing in 4G connectivity for more than 330 rural areas by the end of this year," Derek McManus, COO at Telefonica said.

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"Technology never stands still, which is why we are always looking for the right partners and investing in our future network. Whether trialling 5G to support a future-proof, mobile Britain, or ensuring the remotest parts of rural Britain can connect to 4G, for O2, this is about continuing to invest in all areas not one at the cost of the other."

The initiative is part of a much larger government-led project to connect small communities with faster mobile broadband connections and Digital Minister Margot James explained that O2's efforts haven't gone unnoticed.

"4G coverage is improving all the time, but there's more to do, particularly in rural areas," she said. "We've already reformed planning laws to make it easier and cheaper to install and upgrade digital infrastructure, and it's great to see O2 and the rest of industry responding to ensure more people in rural Britain can share the brilliant benefits of 4G connectivity."

Last year, the telecoms firm installed the first permanent 4G mast in the remote hamlet of Staylittle, in Powys, Wales, helping its businesses and residents access faster mobile data services. 

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