A study for Ofcom has revealed today (22 July) that good mobile phone reception and the ability to use your phone or tablet to access the internet are essential to modern rural life. Respondents to the study said being able to contact the emergency services, keeping in touch with family and friends and being able to access information, education and entertainment were among the most important services they required.
This research backs up the Countryside Alliance’s assertion that good broadband and mobile phone services are as important to those who live in the countryside as water and energy.
Countryside Alliance head of policy, Sarah Lee said: “For far too long rural communities have been treated like second class citizens when it comes to mobile and broadband.
“The Ofcom study only goes to show how important good mobile phone coverage is to consumers and with their latest annual Communications Market Report stating that half of the UK population now use their mobile phone to access the internet it is high time this digital divide was closed.”
The Countryside Alliance also welcomes today’s announcement from Vodafone that it will help to improve mobile reception in the countryside. Rural communities are being invited to sign up to Rural Open Sure Signal technology which uses broadband technology to boost the Vodafone signal locally.
Sarah Lee added: “This is a good example of the sort of innovative technology that we think needs to be used to solve reception problems for those living in rural areas.
“However this project only applies to areas where they have a fixed line broadband speed of at least 4MBps, which means there will still be millions of households in rural areas who will be unable to make use of this technology.
“With a General Election next year the Government needs to remember that digital connectivity will be an important issue for rural voters.”
• The OFCOM report can be found here: http://media.ofcom.org.uk/news/2014/essential-comms-services/?utm_source=updates&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=affordability
• In June 2013 the Countryside Alliance launched a crowd-sourcing project to map the true mobile phone reception in the countryside. We asked smart phone owners to download the free RootMetrics CoverageMap app and send back samples of the mobile phone signal where they are. The campaign is on-going and the results, so far, can be seen herewww.rootmetrics.com/uk/