Press Release | 29 May 2024

Vodafone pledges to deploy 5G across rural Northern Ireland

Vodafone has reaffirmed its commitment to providing 5G Standalone (5G SA) to Northern Ireland, as a result of its proposed merger with Three UK.

  • Northern Ireland stands to gain billions in productivity benefits from 5G Standalone (5G SA).
  • This latest generation mobile network could transform rural communities by improving sectors such as healthcare, education, agriculture and business.
  • Proposed merger with Three means Vodafone could also commit to exceeding the UK Government’s Shared Rural Network 4G coverage targets, and extend 5G into rural Northern Ireland communities.

Vodafone’s existing 4G network is a lifeline for many of Northern Ireland’s rural communities, while 5G is already available in a number of locations across the country.

The roll out of the latest version of 5G technology (5G SA) however, would mean communities  across Northern Ireland – including those in rural locations – could take advantage of the most up-to-date technology in areas spanning healthcare, education and agriculture.

5G Ultra: Everything you need to know

5G Ultra is Vodafone's name for 5G Standalone services in the UK - the next iteration of 5G. Here's what it can do for you and how you can get it.

Vodafone also commits to exceeding the UK Government’s Shared Rural Network minimum target, of bringing 4G to more than 85% of Northern Ireland’s geography*, by ensuring at least 98% of Northern Ireland’s landmass has access by 2027.

The merged business (of Vodafone UK and Three UK) would then go further, by upgrading this network to have more than 98% 5G Standalone geographic coverage by 2034, which will also be available to 4G customers. This will ensure rural communities across Northern Ireland are part of the UK’s digital transformation at home, at work and on the move.

Currently, approximately 75% of Northern Ireland’s rural area landmass is a total 5G not-spot**.  However, according to Vodafone UK research***, the cumulative benefits of 5G for economic output in Northern Ireland stand at £2.7 billion between 2026 and 2030.

250 rural locations now receiving Vodafone 4G through Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme

Praise be! Church Stretton in rural Shropshire now has 4G thanks to Vodafone and the Shared Rural Network.

Next-generation 5G SA technology could be even more transformational for rural Northern Ireland, since it uses cutting-edge infrastructure to provide faster, more reliable connectivity compared to 5G Non-standalone.

The proposed merger with Three would offer the necessary scale needed to roll out the technology to rural Northern Ireland locations, where it can be deployed across innovative service solutions, in areas such as:

  • Healthcare: where drones equipped with 5G SA could be used in remote or hard-to-reach areas to provide vital information for first responders and care teams in emergency situations, such as fires or traffic collisions.
  • Agriculture: where farmers would be able to use new innovations like soil sensors to boost productivity, reduce environmental impact and drive growth.
  • Education: offering advances in virtual classroom applications, enabling young people living in rural or remote communities to access specialist teaching.

Remote works: Why rural connectivity is central to Vodafone's network

At Vodafone, we’ve always been vocal in our belief that a rural postcode should not be a barrier to connectivity. This is why we continue to invest millions in our rural network.

Andrea Donà, Chief Network Officer at Vodafone UK, said: “We know how vital access to connectivity is for everyone, so we want to ensure we do as much as we can to extend our coverage to rural Northern Ireland. Evidently, we need to accelerate the roll out of 5G infrastructure to every corner of the UK, and the proposed merger with Three UK will enable this, ensuring rural Northern Ireland doesn’t get left behind as a result.”

Stay up to date with the latest news from Vodafone by following us on LinkedIn and Twitter/X, as well as signing up for News Centre website notifications.


Notes to Editors

What is 5G Standalone (5G SA)?

Until now, 5G has sat on existing networks and therefore relied on 4G technology. 5G Standalone (5G SA) offers faster data speeds, near-real time latency (the time it takes for the network to connect) as well as network slicing, offering dedicated slices of the network for specialist applications, such as virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, connected buildings or communications channels for emergency services.  For more information on 5G and 5G SA visit 5G: Everything you need to know about Vodafone UK’s network

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693


Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews


Vodafone Limited

Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN

Registered in England No: 1471587