Tag Archives: mobile phone coverage

‘Not-Spots’: if the networks won’t fill them, should Lib Dems try to force them to?

It’s mid-June and the time for London Technology week, a showcase for technological innovation. 5th generation mobile phones are almost upon us and along with the promise of blazingly fast mobile download speeds comes a renewed call for mobile phone operators to improve the rural coverage of their networks. In a conference sponsored by technology thinktank Cambridge Wireless, industry players gathered to discuss the issue in the high tech ambience of the Digital Catapult on the Euston Road.

Large areas of the UK, especially Scotland, still do not receive good quality mobile coverage. A report published earlier this year by Ofcom, the official body that regulates communication, found that 30% of the UK’s landmass lacks coverage from at least one of the ‘big four’ mobile networks, increasing to 60% in Scotland. Worse, there are many so-called ‘not-spots’ where there is no coverage at all. As one speaker explained to the assembled audience, planning rules don’t help: the UK has one of the most stringent height restrictions in the world for mobile phone masts, greatly limiting the coverage area each mast can provide.

Worried about the continuing ‘digital divide’, Ofcom proposes that new licences to operate networks should come with an obligation to provide 92% coverage of the UK landmass. They claim that this will benefit rural communities that otherwise would miss out if operators determined coverage on purely commercial considerations. This has powerful political support from lobbying groups such as the Countryside Alliance, and the 2017 Liberal Democrat manifesto committed to improving rural mobile coverage. I believe these calls are misguided and will create social injustices while reducing the quality of mobile networks in the UK, thus directly harming our economy.

There is no doubt that improving coverage in a rural area does indeed benefit the local economy since individuals and businesses that rely on good mobile and internet can occupy properties they would not have previously considered. This attracts more affluent persons to low-cost rural areas, providing them with improved lifestyle opportunities, and creating a demand for local services.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Michael Moore’s Westminster Notes

Every week Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here’s this week’s edition.

Mobile phone coverage

Mobile phone service ‘not spots’ across my constituency remain a huge frustration for local people and have a serious knock-on effect for businesses and Borderers going about their daily lives. As local MP, I have been working for many years to tackle this issue and I have welcomed the UK Government’s commitment, through the Mobile Infrastructure Project, to invest £150million to improve mobile phone signal in rural areas and on key transport routes.

Last week I …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment
Advert



Recent Comments

  • Leekliberal
    The route back to EU membership is clear if the timetable is not. Rejoining the single market and the customs union would remove almost all the throttling beuro...
  • Tahir MaherTahir Maher
    Personally, I thought that Amanda Gorman - the Youth poet - reciting her poem " The Hill We Climb" (she finished it on the day Capitol Hill was ransacked) was o...
  • Stephen Booth
    My guess, like Tony Greaves, is that the elections will be cancelled. But holding them in the first or second Thursday in September makes sense if the pandemic ...
  • Alex Macfie
    nvelope2003: "We lost the referendum and we can see from today’s events in Washington DC what people think of poor losers" Actually ...
  • Peter
    Scotland does not meet Eurozone entry criteria. The EU does not want more members that are outside of the EZ, especially when the Covid crisis provides the oppo...