Minister’s not spot pledge
I fully support the Bury Free Press No More Not Spots campaign.
As West Suffolk MP, as the Secretary of State responsible, and as someone who lives in and drives around West Suffolk I recognise the importance of good quality mobile connectivity. Being able to get online wherever you live, work or travel is essential for taking full part in the modern digital world – here and across Britain.
I know it can be galling to hear about progress elsewhere if you are stuck in a not spot, but it’s important to stress how far we have come, even when there remains work to do.
In 2014 we set licence obligations for the four mobile network operators to deliver voice coverage to 90 per cent of the UK by the end of last year.
Last month Ofcom confirmed that all four have met those obligations, and Ofcom is already looking at imposing even greater targets on the mobile companies.
We have reformed the Electronic Communications Code to make rollout cheaper and to encourage investment in digital infrastructure.
We have also reformed mobile planning laws in England to provide new rights, for example, to build taller masts.
You may have seen that, along with Lord Gardiner, the Rural Minister, I recently signed an accord with the Church of England to encourage the use of its buildings and land to support connectivity in rural areas.
Churches are central features of local communities up and down the country. Now even a 15th century building can help make Britain fit for the future by boosting connectivity in some of our hardest-to-reach areas.
We know it is improving. There is 4G now in central Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Newmarket and Mildenhall, where there wasn’t just a few years ago. More of our roads and villages are covered.
But there is clearly more to do. Be assured that we are aware of the not spot problem, I share your frustration, and work is taking place to improve the situation.
We want this country to be the best and safest place in the world to go online – for business or for pleasure – and will work tirelessly to make that a reality.
nIf you suffer being in a a not spot, you can log it on Twitter with the hashtag #shareyournotspot