SEVERAL South Lakeland villages can expect a boost in connectivity soon after EE committed to expanding its 4G coverage in the county.

The mobile network provider is set to upgrade eleven 4G sites in Cumbria this year as part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) initiative to extend coverage in rural areas across the UK.

SRN is a programme between the UK’s four mobile network operators and the UK Government to extend 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK’s geography by the middle of this decade.

Locations earmarked for upgrades include Over Staveley, Staveley, Main Street, Hawkshead, B5277, Witherslack, Lower Holker, Flookburgh, A685, Docker and Hugill.

The upgrades announced fall under the first phase of the Shared Rural Network, where EE will invest to significantly reduce ‘partial not-spots’ by 2024.

Richard Leafe, chief executive of the Lake District National Park Authority welcomed the news.

“Residents and visitors to the National Park now expect reliable, fast mobile communications and data services but, we know, this remains a challenge in parts of our National Park,” he said.

“The improved rural coverage now being achieved will make a real difference to those people who live and work in these parts of the Park and for the millions who visit the area.

“While we have to make sure that such infrastructure respects the beauty and sensitivity of the Park, we have to balance this carefully with the need to make sure that communities and visitors benefit from the latest technology and connectivity.”

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said: "I'm delighted to see the great strides EE is making to boost 4G services in countryside communities as part of the Shared Rural Network agreement, which was brokered and is part funded by the Government.

"We're investing half a billion pounds in this landmark deal to extend mobile coverage to 95 per cent of the UK and it will help us build back better from the pandemic."