Monday, 11 July 2016 10:54

Action 'vital' on rural mobile coverage

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Action 'vital' on rural mobile coverage

URGENT action is needed to improve rural mobile phone coverage, business leaders have warned.

Introduced this month, the government's Digital Economy Bill includes a pledge for faster rural broadband – but business leaders say better mobile coverage is also needed.

The bill will enshrine in law a government pledge or Universal Service Obligation to give everyone the right to broadband speeds of at least 10mbps by 2020.

But the Country Land and Business Association says it should be accompanied by a commitment to deliver better mobile coverage for people in rural areas too.

    See also: Call to improve rural mobile coverage

Real and demonstrable improvements were needed in rural reception, said the CLA.

CLA senior rural business adviser Charles Trotman said: "The Digital Economy Bill enshrines in law the Universal Service Obligation for broadband of at least 10mbps by 2020.

"People living and working in rural areas will finally get the legal guarantee of internet connection that the CLA has campaigned to secure for so many years.

"It is time to end the discrimination felt in rural areas and we will continue working to ensure this law delivers for rural communities.

"Progress on improving mobile coverage in rural areas, however, has been slow going."

Government and the mobile industry made a deal 18 months ago based on legally guaranteeing mobile coverage for 90% of the geographic landmass of the UK by end of 2017, said Dr Trotman.

But the industry had had since lined up excuse after excuse and there was "scant evidence" of progress towards the 90% promise, he added.

The most recent figures showed mobile coverage for only 55% of the country.

The CLA claims the bill will remove the rights of individuals to negotiate commercial agreements with network operators who want to site phone masts on their land or property.

Instead, agreements will be imposted – a move the CLA says must properly reflect any true losses of the landowner, such as the obligation to provide access.

Dr Trotman said: "Government must ensure that this translates to better coverage for rural people, who have had to put up with a second class service for far too long."

The CLA would be working with Ministers as the Bill progresses to help ensure the improvements delivered better mobile coverage that was desperately needed.

Ministers must include legislation in the Digital Economy Bill to ensure mobile phone companies honoured existing land access contracts, said Dr Trotman.

Telecoms companies must not be allowed to terminate existing contracts in order to take advantage of more favourable terms under the new code.

People in this conversation

  • Guest (Colin Grice)


    They have barely scratched the surface of "90% by end of 2017"
    Just more excuses and no more new masts so far.
    We still have no signal from any of them and no fast BB either.
    If you ask about future plans you get an patronising suggestion to try standing by a window or turn your device of and on again.
    I don't think following those suggestions will help put up a mast but are very cost effective ways to tick the box and close the case.

    from Westerdale, Whitby YO21, UK

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