A Westminster Hall Debate on the Mobile Infrastructure Project, secured by John Glen MP (Con, Salisbury), will take place on Wednesday 10 February 2016, 4:00-4:30pm.
The Countryside Alliance welcomes this important debate and recognises the importance of good mobile phone coverage in rural areas and has sent a brief to MPs ahead of the debate – which can be found here – BACKGROUND NOTE ON MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE – Westminster Hall Debate (John Glen MP) – 10.02.2016
In the countryside mobile connectivity is just as essential, but nowhere near as available, as it is in urban areas. Coverage is patchy and can be unreliable, making life for families and businesses very difficult. Continued poor connectivity in rural areas represents a barrier to economic growth and these gaps and weaknesses need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
The Alliance welcomes the Government’s commitment to improving rural connectivity and tackling mobile phone partial not-spots around the country. In a landmark deal announced on 18 December 2014 the four network operators announced a £5bn investment in the UK’s mobile phone coverage. The deal will guarantee call and text coverage on all networks across 90 per cent of the UK’s geographical area by 2017, and coverage including internet access to 85 per cent by the same date. In return the Government agreed to reform the outdated Electronic Communications Code and make it easier for new masts and other infrastructure to be built, something for which the Countryside Alliance has long campaigned.
The Government will also allow government buildings to be used as sites for mobile infrastructure and will take operators’ concerns into account when they review the fees mobile networks pay to government.
However, more needs to be done by the Government and service providers to connect the final 30 per cent of the country, that has no, or only partial, reception. This 30 per cent includes many thousands of rural households.