LONDON: Britain's four mobile network operators have agreed to build a shared rural network, backed by funds from government, banishing countryside "not-spots" where consumers are unable to get an adequate signal.
EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three will collectively spend £532 million (US$684 million) over 20 years, according to the plan published on Friday, potentially supported by a £500 million investment from government.
The operators would invest in new and existing phone masts they would all share under the proposal, which the government hopes will be formalised early next year.
Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said she is determined to make sure no part of the country is left behind in mobile connectivity.
"Brokering an agreement for mast sharing between networks alongside new investment in mobile infrastructure will mean people get good 4G signal no matter where they are or which provider they're with," she said.
"But it is not yet a done deal and I want to see industry move quickly so we can reach a final agreement early next year."
The operators have agreed to share existing masts and infrastructure in areas where there is coverage from at least one but not all operators.
If this is delivered, the government will then commit up to £500 million of investment to eliminate total not-spots - the hard-to-reach areas where there is no coverage from any operator.
The agreement will bring high-quality 4G coverage to 95 per cent of Britain by 2025, the government said.