Andrew Bridgen MP's campaign for rural mobile coverage triumphs
The long parliamentary campaign to bring mobile coverage to rural areas celebrated a milestone today, as OFCOM finally announced auction plans that will see broadband coverage increased to an estimated 98% of the UK population, and will vastly improve infrastructure in remote rural areas of the UK.
Traditionally, up to 6 million people in Britain have been excluded from good mobile coverage, particularly in rural areas. Andrew Bridgen MP was one of the leaders of the campaign to increase the coverage, backing a back-bench business committee debate motion urging OFCOM to increase the coverage to at least 98% of the population. Andrew then spoke in the debate, in the House of Commons last May. The motion was carried unanimously at the end of a 3-hour debate.
The long-awaited auction will start later this year, but bidding will not begin until early 2013, which Ofcom say is in line with its previous timetable. The regulator says it expects consumers to "start getting services in late 2013". It says its plans should see mobile broadband rolled out to at least 98% of people in rural areas across the UK, and the auction will offer the equivalent of three-quarters of the mobile spectrum currently in use - some 80% more than released in the 3G auction which took place in 2000.
This is an investment that will transform the fortunes of thousands of small and medium sized businesses, currently hamstrung by inadequate mobile phone and internet coverage. Hundreds of thousands of homes, schools, farms and businesses will get access to decent mobile and internet coverage for the first time.
Andrew said ‘ Mobile and Broadband coverage are more important for ever now for rural communities and this announcement will transform businesses in North West Leicestershire meaning faster and more effective communication links.’