- O2 will invest in enhanced 4G connectivity in over 330 communities, from Drumoak to Lizard, by the end of 2018, resulting in better connectivity for 250,000 rural residents
- Rural businesses set for revenue boost of up to £141m driven by the implementation of 4G, representing a potential £45m boost to the UK economy and boost to underlying employment growth of 31%, according to new independent research
- Mobile network operator releases new evidence to highlight the importance of connecting rural Britain to mobile
- Last year, O2 installed the first permanent 4G mobile mast in remote hamlet, Staylittle, in Powys, Wales, bringing transformative communications to a previously cut off community
Rural businesses across Britain are set to receive an overall economic boost of approximately £141m per annum from 4G connectivity, according to new economic research commissioned by O2 and conducted by Development Economics. The mobile network operator is today committing to improve 4G connectivity for a further 339 rural communities, from Drumoak to Lizard, by the end of 2018.
The report, entitled ‘The Benefits of Connecting Rural Communities’, predicts that improved 4G connectivity will benefit over 14,000 rural businesses, boosting their collective revenue by as much as £141m per annum. A year on, the revenue boost to rural businesses could also inject an additional £44.6m in additional GVA.
Tourism, transport and manufacturing to benefit most
The tourism and hospitality sector is set to benefit the most from O2’s rural network rollout. According to the report, O2’s rollout is expected to create an additional £57.7m in additional revenue a year after completion, as rural businesses take advantage of new opportunities and efficiencies mobile connectivity offers to attract customers and save time and money.
Rural manufacturers and transport businesses are also predicted to gain from enhanced 4G connectivity, with an estimated additional £24.1m and £15.4m in revenue respectively.
Derek McManus, COO at Telefonica UK , commented: “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.
“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.”
Margot James, Digital Minister , said: “4G coverage is improving all the time, but there’s more to do, particularly in rural areas. 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.”
The rural rollout is part of O2’s commitment to delivering the best mobile experience for its customers. The operator invests over £2 million per day to maintain and improve its network. Earlier this year, Ofcom confirmed that O2 had delivered against its commitment to providing 98% indoor 4G coverage and 90% geographical landmass mass coverage across the UK. This enhanced and expanded coverage helped O2 to scoop uSwitch’s 2018 award for Best Network Coverage, as voted by the public
Last year, O2 installed the first permanent 4G mobile mast in remote hamlet, Staylittle, in Powys, Wales, bringing mobile connectivity to a rural community that had previously been cut off from all communications.
Residents said the transformative impact of improved mobile coverage for rural communities cannot be understated. Anne Griffith, a farmer in Staylittle, said, “4G mobile connectivity has improved the way my business operates and it’s really helped us grow, as we can now speak to potential customers even when we’re out on the fields.” Meanwhile, Gary Mitchell, Chairman of the South and Mid Wales rescue team, credited improved connectivity as a critical tool for saving lives. “4G mobile connectivity has allowed us to respond faster to calls and locate people more quickly.”
Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.