EE, O2, Vodafone and Three UK have all agreed to a new government plan—reportedly valued at £5 billion—to provide voice, SMS and data services to 90 per cent of the UK by 2017.
The agreement comes after the government's pledge to provide wireless service to more rural areas in the UK, following poor mobile adoption in rural villages and towns across the country.
For far too long, too many parts of the UK have regularly suffered from poor mobile coverage leaving them unable to make calls or send texts,” cultural secretary Sajid Javid said. “Now at last we have progress that will give the UK the world-class mobile phone coverage it needs and deserves."
British regulator Ofcom will provide 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum for cheaper lease prices, allowing telecom providers more room for expansion into rural areas.
UK operators have been called out for a lack of investment in rural areas, leaving a small minority of the villages without even the basic wireless connections to send messages and receive calls.
The 3G rollout will be the first some villages see of mobile service and Vodafone has shown the largest investment in the older wireless technology (opens in new tab), focused on bringing consistent speeds to all households while laying off 4G investment (opens in new tab).
The agreement comes at a time where all broadband companies are looking for a slice of the wireless pie. BT Group confirmed an acquisition of EE was in the works for £12.5 billion (opens in new tab) earlier in the year.
Sky announced a deal with O2 to offer wireless service (opens in new tab) alongside its TV, broadband and phone service, in a new quad-play package. Rumors are currently circulating on an apparent Vodafone acquisition of U.S. conglomerate Liberty Global (in charge of Virgin Media), although Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao denied these claims.