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(Pocket-lint) - The UK government has launched a collaborative initiative worth £1 billion to increase 4G mobile coverage to 95 per cent of the country by 2025.

All of the major networks - BT (EE), O2, Vodafone and Three - have welcomed the proposals, which will see them share masts as part of a Shared Rural Network. This will dramatically improve 4G signals in areas that, in some cases, do not even have 3G coverage at present.


It is estimated that 280,000 homes and businesses and travellers on more than 9,900 miles of roads will directly benefit.

The sharing of masts will ne a "world-first" and include the construction of new masts in some areas, plus the use of existing infrastructure in others. And, while the networks are yet to sign on the dotted line, they each speak positively about the Shared Rural Network:

"We welcome the Shared Rural Network. It is the best way to enhance mobile connectivity for the 9.3 million living in the UK’s countryside," said Three's CEO David Dyson.

And Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery explained what the network initiative would mean to those living in not-spot areas in a YouTube video.

EE (BT) consumer boss, Marc Allera, also outlined that it was the addition of UK government support that helped the project reach the next level: "This ambitious proposal combined with critical government support, will remove the key barriers to tackling the tricky not-spot problem, ensuring people and businesses right across the UK get access to the digital connectivity they need, wherever they are," he added.

The UK's digital secretary, Nicky Morgan, hopes that the final deal should be signed in the first few months of 2020, then work can get underway: "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," she said in a statement.

Writing by Rik Henderson.