Julian applauds rural mobile coverage progress after years of campaigning
June 30, 2021
Having lobbied hard on this for many years at Westminster, Julian has welcomed the government’s announcement yesterday of further progress in implementing its ‘Shared Rural Network’ programme to improve mobile coverage in hard-to-reach areas.
This involves the big operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone joining together, supported with state funding, to bring 4G coverage to 95% of the country by the end of 2025 by eliminating most coverage ‘not spots’.
4G is 10 times faster than 3G, and its coverage extension could add an estimated £75 billion to the British economy, by allowing people to more easily run businesses in all parts of the UK.
Yesterday, Ministers launched a consultation with the telecoms sector to identify existing infrastructure which can be used to end total ‘not-spots’, and also confirmed its funding support for the £1 billion Shared Rural Network. Northern England should see particular improvements from the programme, with 4G coverage rising from 68 to 86% in the Northeast.
Julian has led on this for many years as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Business, in 2019 meeting with the Secretary of State for Digital and Culture to request he keep up the pressure on operators to devise a solution to widen coverage. He also led 41 other MPs in sending a joint letter to the Chief Executive of Ofcom, the national communications regulator, requesting annual monitoring of mobile operators’ commitments on improving rural 4G, and in 2020 he collaborated with other MPs to write to the Secretary of State for Digital seeking government support for the proposed Shared Rural Network.
After yesterday’s announcement, Julian said: “This new practical consultation to gather information to reduce not-spots, and renewed commitment to funding the project, give me confidence that the serious benefits of the Shared Rural Network for our region will soon start being delivered.
4G is now an essential service for Yorkshire households and businesses, and the need to close the gap in coverage between central York, outlying communities in my constituency, and the rest of the county has led me to work steadily on this in recent years.
Our local economy needs all possible support as it recovers from covid, and upgrading this vital modern infrastructure can make an important contribution to this.”