98% coverage for mobile broadband
In a report published yesterday, the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee threw its weight behind Rory Stewart’s campaign to force mobile phone companies to provide coverage to 98% of the population.
Rory first raised issue of mobile phone coverage in May when he put a motion before the House of Commons calling upon the regulator, Ofcom, to increase its coverage target. Over 120 MPs joined his campaign, which drew support from people up and down the country, and the motion was passed unanimously.
In their report, the committee slams Ofcom’s current coverage target of 95% as ‘unambitious’ and backs Rory’s call for a 98% coverage obligation. Last month, in response to the campaign, the Chancellor George Osborne also promised £150m of government money to increase mobile coverage. The money will be used to pay for new masts, with a procurement expected to begin next year.
Thousands of small and medium sized businesses in rural areas are hamstrung by inadequate mobile phone and internet coverage. The problem is particularly acute in rural Cumbria. 98 per cent coverage should allow hundreds of thousands of homes, schools, farms and businesses wto get access to decent mobile and internet coverage for the first time.
Rory said: ‘I’m really delighted the committee has endorsed the unanimous vote in parliament in support of my motion. It’s absolutely vital that we get decent mobile coverage to everyone in rural Britain. It will help families to stay in touch and businesses to prosper. I have fought hard to get the government to recognise the importance of this issue, so it’s really heartening to see the committee give the campaign its full support.”