Eastern Scotland, Cumbria, central Wales and Strabane will be the first parts of the UK to benefit from the Government's £150 million spend on improving mobile phone coverage in rural areas.
They are covered by the first phase of the Mobile Infrastructure Project, details of which have been published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on a map outlining the different stages of the investment. The first sites are expected to go live by the end of this year, and the Government is aiming to have them all in place by 2015.
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The Government is providing the money for communications infrastructure company Arqiva to install the masts. The company has begun to identify suitable sites and apply for planning permission.
Four mobile network operators – EE, Telefonica, Three and Vodafone – will use the sites and cover the operating costs over the next 20 years.
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Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: "This project will see mobile phone coverage extended to many of the people who currently live and work in areas where there is none. The project will provide a significant boost to local economies across the UK, and will be instrumental in helping Britain win the global race."
The DCMS has acknowledged that the project will not reach every area without mobile coverage. A spokesman told TRPro it will not be able to identify the 'not spots' until the survey work is completed, but that it is likely that a few areas will not get mast coverage in the long term because it would be uneconomical, and would need an alternative such as satellite phones.