Nine new mobile phone masts to bring 4G to Dales

A mobile phone mast. Photo: Richard Leonard.

A series of new telecommunications masts will be activated over the next 18 months, bringing 4G coverage to some of the more isolated areas of the Dales.

Arkengarthdale and Low Row in Swaledale will be among the first areas to benefit with masts due to come into use later this year.

MP for Rishi Sunak welcomed the move which will bring big improvements to mobile phone and 4G broadband coverage in the Dales.

The lighting of nine new masts in Swaledale and Wensleydale follows Mr Sunak’s request to the Home Office to speed up the activation process so that families and businesses can enjoy them as soon as possible.

The masts were built as part of a £9billion government program to renew the national grid used by emergency services. The new 999 service is based on extending the existing EE network, with the Home Office paying for additional masts in the more rural areas of Britain.

The MP for Richmond (Yorks) said: ‘The new masts will mean a dramatic change in service for areas that have not had a decent 4G signal.

“I am pleased that the Home Office has brought the activation dates forward – in the case of Keld and Gunnerside by nine months – so that the best service is available as soon as possible.”

The activation of the masts has been delayed by the pandemic and the need to follow government procurement rules for the final stages of the mast program.

Arkengarthdale Parish Council Chairman Cllr Stephen Stubbs said the wait for a good mobile signal in the valley had been a long one and local residents would be delighted.

He added: “A strong 4G signal will be welcome and we appreciate the work Rishi has done to ensure we get what many other places take for granted as soon as possible.”

The masts will offer EE’s commercial 4G service, but other networks will also be able to use most of them.

Under the £1 billion Shared Rural Network (SRN) scheme – funded by the government and mobile network operators – many masts will be upgraded so that other networks (Vodafone, Three and 02) can also use them to offer a commercial 4G mobile. telephone/broadband service to their customers.

Two additional masts are offered under the SRN scheme at Melbecks Moor between Swaledale and Arkengarthdale and near Bainbridge in Wensleydale.

Mr Sunak said: ‘The Shared Rural Network will be important in helping to improve consumer choice so that Dales residents do not have to use a particular network because of where they live.’

The sites to be activated within the next 18 months are: Braidley and Coverhead in Coverdale, near Leyburn; Arkengarthdale; West Burton; two near Keld; Hawks; Gunner side.