Mobile operator O2 has unveiled a new plan to extend its 4G coverage to more rural parts of the UK, which could be good news for areas where people still find it difficult to access a high-speed broadband connection.
In many rural parts of the UK, using a 4G mobile broadband solution can actually offer faster and more reliable speeds that fixed-line alternatives, so the news that O2 is bringing this connectivity to more locations may be warmly received.
The company has announced it is committing to adding 4G capabilities in 339 rural communities up and down the UK by the end of 2018, from Drumoak in Aberdeenshire to Lizard in Cornwall. Some 250,000 residents in these locations are expected to benefit from the investment.
Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer 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."
According to research commissioned by O2 and conducted by Development Economics, the implementation of 4G connectivity will also benefit more than 14,000 rural businesses, helping boost their collective revenue by as much as £141 million a year.
The tourism and hospitality sector is expected to be the number one beneficiary of this, as businesses will be able to use better connectivity to attract more customers and save time and money. Meanwhile, the transport and manufacturing sectors were also named as among the key areas set to enjoy revenue boosts.
Digital Minister Margot James also welcomed the news, noting that while 4G mobile broadband coverage is improving all the time, there is still work to be done to be done, especially in remote parts of the country.
"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," she said.