Government plans announced today to increase mobile phone coverage will leave parts of the east with poor or no coverage for years to come, a rural business leader warns.
Nicola Currie, the Country Land and Business Association’s (CLA) eastern regional manager, said: “This announcement contains big numbers and strong words, but it is deeply disappointing the Government has not pushed the providers to come up with more radical solutions.
“The Government were already making investment and increasing coverage – what we want is an ambition for 100 percent coverage and a clear timetable for doing so. As it stands, homes and businesses across the eastern region still face the prospect of poor, or no, mobile phone coverage for years to come.
“We are keen to know whether this agreement ends the prospect of a national roaming network that is unwanted by the mobile phone providers, but, in our view, has the potential to provide choice and much-needed access in rural communities.”
Announcing a guaranteed £5 billion investment from mobile phone providers, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “T oo many parts of the UK regularly suffer from poor mobile coverage leaving them unable to make calls or send texts.
“Government and businesses have been clear about the importance of mobile connectivity, and improved coverage, so this legally binding agreement will give the UK the world-class mobile phone coverage it needs and deserves.”
The agreement with providers is for not-spots to be halved giving voice and text coverage for 90 per cent of the UK geographic area by 2017 for each provider.
Full coverage from all four mobile operators will increase from 69 per cent to 85 per cent of geographic areas by 2017 and provide reliable signal strength for voice for each type of mobile service (2G/3G/4G).
The companies will make the deal legally binding by accepting amended licence conditions and it will be enforceable by Ofcom.
The agreement does not include national network roaming, where the phone switches to another network if the subscriber’s is not available.