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MPs join call for better rural 4G coverage

More than 50 MPs have called on the government to do more to improve 4G coverage in rural areas.

Some 56 MPs have signed a joint letter to digital secretary Matthew Hancock asking him to challenge the current speed and ambition of 4G coverage roll out.

They are calling for a legally binding obligation for all four major operators to ensure mobile coverage across 95% of UK geographic landmass by the end of 2022.

See also: Rural businesses call to improve rural 4G coverage

The government estimated that achieving this ambition would add £75 billion to UK GDP.

The letter has been signed by 56 MPs from parties including the Conservative Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru.

It has been co-ordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Business, which is chaired by Julian Sturdy, MP for the York Outer constituency.

Not good enough

While people inside 90% of UK premises can make telephone calls on all four mobile networks, this falls to 57% in rural areas, according to a recent Ofcom Connected Nations report.

Mr Sturdy said: “ This is just not good enough and progress in connecting the countryside has been painfully slow.

“We are asking the Secretary of State to step in and work with Ofcom to ensure that the mobile operators speed up delivery of 4G to rural areas.”

The move follows a Country Land and Business Association report that mobile operators have been failing to submit applications for new masts in rural areas with the worst 4G coverage.

CLA deputy president Mark Bridgeman said people living and working in the countryside had been disadvantaged by poor signal and mobile ‘not-spots’ for too long.

'Abandoned'

“It is clear that the mobile operators will only make the investment needed to connect the countryside if they are forced to do so,” he added.

“While many rural communities seem to have been abandoned by the mobile operators, these 50 MPs are making sure the rural voice is heard.

The MPs’ joint letter calls on the government to ensure that Ofcom works towards the delivery of universal quality mobile coverage.

It also calls for a significant change in transparency rules that enable mobile operators to refuse to tell communities where and when they plan to roll out coverage.

The full letter can be read here.

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