Support for improving mobile coverage

Rural businesses have welcomed a joint pledge to improve mobile phone coverage in the countryside.

It follows negotiations linked to the new Electronics Communications Code which aims to facilitate the installation and maintenance of mobile phone networks.

The reformed Electronic Communications Code (ECC) came into force in December 2017 with the aim of boosting coverage and connectivity across the UK.

It aims to do this though a package of measures to deliver significant cost reductions to the sector while ensuring landowners receive a fair payment for allowing their land to be used.

Recent talks involved the Country Land and Business Association, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor, Mobile UK and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The three organisations and government department have now issued a joint statement, saying they recognise the importance of working together to improve coverage.

The joint statement says: “Since the new legislation was introduced, there have been problems with negotiations progressing.

“While some initial uncertainty is to be expected, government, regulators, the telecoms sector, independent infrastructure providers and the landowner community, recognise the importance of all parties working collaboratively together, both during this transition period and moving forwards.

“We are therefore coming together to reaffirm the commitments made to each other in Ofcom's Code of Practice, and to reiterate our support for the Government's ambition to be a leading global economy underpinned by world-class full fibre network and 5G infrastructure.

“It is essential that parties engage professionally in open and constructive communications. The future needs of customers and the economy are too important for it to be otherwise.”

CLA Deputy President Mark Bridgeman said:“Improving mobile phone coverage across the countryside has clear benefits to rural businesses, consumers and mobile operators.

He added: “It is only by working together that the most meaningful improvements will be delivered.

“Ofcom’s code of practice should be the blueprint for future negotiations around rental agreements for masts.

“The CLA is pleased to endorse this as the best way to achieve agreements which deliver both a fair payment to landowners and improved rural mobile coverage.”

Digital communications minister Margot James said it was great to see the organisations committing to the code and backing government plans to improve connectivity.

She said: “From improving our existing networks to using the next generation of technology, collaboration is vital when it comes to building our digital infrastructure."


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