Julia Lopez – 2022 Statement on the Shared Rural Network

The statement made by Julia Lopez, the Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, in the House of Commons on 22 June 2022.

I wish to inform the House that I have today laid a departmental minute recording the Government’s proposal to enter into an agreement to indemnify Digital Mobile Spectrum Ltd—a subsidiary of four mobile network operators—in respect of costs that may arise if there is a change in the operator of the Emergency Services Network.

The proposed indemnity will be reported as a contingent liability in line with the HM Treasury Contingent Liability Framework and managed in accordance with “Managing Public Money” (MPM).

The shared rural network is the Government’s £1 billion deal with four mobile network operators to deliver 4G coverage to 95% of UK landmass by the end of the programme. The Government are investing over £500 million to target hard-to-reach areas where there is currently no 4G mobile coverage from any mobile network operator. The Government funded element of the programme includes upgrades to extended area service mobile telephone masts being built as part of the Home Office’s emergency services network.

As set out in the minute, the proposed indemnity would cover costs of up to £15.2 million which may be required for additional equipment and operating expenses should the terms of a future emergency services network contract cause additional costs to be incurred by mobile network operators in order for them to operate their mobile network in accordance with shared rural network requirements. Any costs incurred as a result of the indemnity will be funded from within shared rural network programme approved funding.

A copy of the departmental minute will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.