The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) aims to ensure that ‘lightning fast’ digital connectivity is available across the UK. This gives people choices about where to live and work and ensures they are not left out of future technological revolutions because of poor infrastructure. Demand for mobile internet access is expected to grow as use of data-intensive services increase and new technologies develop.

While a competitive market plays a key role in increasing capacity to meet future customer needs, government intervenes by supporting investment where there is a weaker commercial case, such as in remote rural areas. Through the Shared Rural Network programme, DSIT and its agency, Building Digital UK (BDUK), are working with mobile network operators to deliver reliable 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by 2025. DSIT also funds programmes creating the right conditions for investment in technologies that meet the UK’s future connectivity needs.


This report will examine whether DSIT is on track to deliver reliable mobile connectivity across the UK, which meets the country’s needs now and in the future. We will examine whether:

• DSIT and BDUK have set up effective arrangements for delivering UK-wide 4G connectivity through the Shared Rural Network programme
• DSIT and BDUK are on track to deliver planned 4G connectivity
• DSIT is developing a good basis for meeting the UK’s future connectivity needs

NAO Team

Director: Louise Bladen
Audit Manager: Heather Thompson