O2 has announced a commitment to provide new or enhanced 4G connectivity by the end of 2018 to 373 communities in rural Britain.

Boscastle, Poughill, Crackington, and Grimscott are among the places in North Cornwall that will be covered as part of this investment programme.

Nationally, O2’s investment is expected to result in better connectivity for 250,000 rural residents.

Conservative MP for North Cornwall Scott Mann said: “Improving connectivity in North Cornwall and the wider South West region is a priority for me, as it is the key to succeed in the new age. The tourism and hospitality sector, vital to North Cornwall’s economy, is set to benefit the most from O2’s rural network rollout.”

Rural businesses across Britain are set to receive an overall economic boost of approximately £141-million per annum from 4G connectivity, according to new economic research commissioned by O2 and conducted by Development Economics, and a boost to underlying employment growth of 31%.

The report, entitled ‘The Benefits of Connecting Rural Communities’, predicts that improved 4G connectivity will benefit over 14,000 rural businesses, boosting their collective revenue by as much as £141-million per annum.

A year on, the revenue boost to rural businesses could also inject an additional £44.6-million in additional GVA.

The tourism and hospitality sector is set to benefit the most from O2’s rural network rollout.

According to the report, O2’s rollout is expected to create an additional £57.7-million in additional revenue a year after completion, as rural businesses take advantage of new opportunities and efficiencies mobile connectivity offers to attract customers and save time and money.

Rural manufacturers and transport businesses are also predicted to gain from enhanced 4G connectivity, with an estimated additional £24.1-million and £15.4-million in revenue respectively.

Derek McManus, COO at Telefonica UK, said: “We know mobile has the power to make a real, positive difference to people’s lives and businesses in rural communities across Britain. That’s why we’re proud to be investing in 4G connectivity for more than 330 rural areas by the end of this year.

“Technology never stands still, which is why we are always looking for the right partners and investing in our future network. Whether trialling 5G to support a future-proof, mobile Britain, or ensuring the remotest parts of rural Britain can connect to 4G, for O2, this is about continuing to invest in all areas — not one at the cost of the other.”

Margot James, Digital Minister, said: “4G coverage is improving all the time, but there’s more to do, particularly in rural areas. We’ve already reformed planning laws to make it easier and cheaper to install and upgrade digital infrastructure, and it’s great to see O2 and the rest of industry responding to ensure more people in rural Britain can share the brilliant benefits of 4G connectivity.”

The rural rollout is part of O2’s commitment to delivering the best mobile experience for its customers.

The operator invests over £2-million per day to maintain and improve its network. Earlier this year, Ofcom confirmed that O2 had delivered against its commitment to providing 98% indoor 4G coverage and 90% geographical landmass mass coverage across the UK.

This enhanced and expanded coverage helped O2 to scoop uSwitch’s 2018 award for Best Network Coverage, as voted by the public.