Rory’s campaign for rural mobile coverage in 4G triumph
Rory’s long parliamentary campaign to bring mobile coverage to rural areas celebrated a milestone today, as telecoms regulator Ofcom unveiled plans for the auction of fourth generation (4G) bandwidth for mobile phone services.
The long-awaited sales process comes as a direct result of Rory’s historic Backbench Business Committee debate in May 2011, when he introduced and steered a full debate on the floor of the House of Commons. His motion, urging OFCOM to increase the coverage to at least 98%, drew the support of over 120 MPs from all parties, and more than fifty spoke in the debate. The motion itself received more MPs’ signatures than any previous motion in living memory and it was carried unanimously at the end of its 3-hour duration.
Rory said: “It is fantastic news that OFCOM has responded to Parliament’s campaign in this positive way. We should soon begin to see a real difference in our everyday lives here in Cumbria and of course across the UK. Rural Britain is not being left behind, and we are making real changes in Parliament. Good broadband and mobile access will enable local SMEs – which here in the constituency power our economy – to compete more quickly, more cheaply, and in some cases worldwide. High-quality mobile signals will also allow sparsely-populated rural areas to finally use the incredible new technological opportunities available to them, such as the farming database systems that we have recently trialled on our dairy farms in association with FarmWizard. We can look to transform health through telemedicine, and education through distance learning, highlighted by the recent visit to the constituency by Michael Gove. I firmly believe that improving mobile coverage and broadband is the single most effective thing this government can do encourage economic growth in rural areas. It has the potential to revive and transform our villages and towns.”
This investment 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.
The 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.