MP's backing for proposal which could improve mobile coverage in Uttlesford

PUBLISHED: 08:02 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:11 23 July 2019

Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch has backed a scheme which aims to improve mobile networks in rural areas

Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch has backed a scheme which aims to improve mobile networks in rural areas

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Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch has supported a proposal which would improve mobile coverage in rural areas.

The plans proposed by mobile operators would mean allowing access to each other's masts on a reciprocal basis to improve competition in the countryside, creating a 'shared rural network'.

Mrs Badenoch said: "Improving infrastructure in communities across our constituency has been a priority since my election.

"A 'shared rural network' would vastly increase operational coverage for many constituents at home and at work, especially for those in the rural parts of our constituency.

"Improving digital connectivity would also mean local businesses could thrive, helping to grow the local and regional economy.

"These proposals provide an efficient and effective solution to tackling the blight of poor connectivity."

Mrs Badenoch is one of a group of 78 cross-party MPs representing rural constituencies who has signed the letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright.

The letter asks him to support the initiative which would, it is claimed, significantly improve rural coverage areas where, in some cases, there is no coverage at all.

The four mobile network operators (MNOs) put forward this initiative after the MPs called on Mr Wright to impose compulsory roaming between providers if the industry did not come up with its own solution.

In the letter the MPs say: "Whilst we have previously written to you in support of roaming, we see industry's proposal for a shared rural network as potentially another effective way of extending mobile coverage and believe it should replace Ofcom's coverage proposals because, in part, it has the support of all four MNOs. We also see the ask of £620m from the Government to build these masts as better value for taxpayers' money, when you take into consideration the potential £800m discount Ofcom had planned to offer just two operators at the next auction and would instead urge Government to invest that discount in improving coverage."

The MPs are also supporting the industry's call for the reform of permitted development rights to allow for taller masts and equivalence in policy with fixed broadband.

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