The CLA is calling for urgent action following the revelation that, in 14 rural local authorities in England, four out of five households do not receive 4G mobile coverage from all the big four mobile providers.
At the very bottom of the list of the 391 local authority areas is Rutland where only 3.42% can receive indoor 4G coverage from all the big four mobile providers.
Yet, as of the end of 2017, there are no legal targets in place to ensure the mobile network operators invest in improvements.
The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, has asked Ofcom to force reluctant mobile network operators to improve coverage in rural areas by imposing a legally binding coverage target on their operating licences. It is calling for EE, O2, Vodafone and Three to be required to deliver 4G coverage to 95% of the UK geographic landmass on all networks by 2022.
CLA Midlands regional director Caroline Bedell said: “These figures reveal the extent to which those living and working in rural areas find themselves in a digital wilderness. It also poses serious questions about what commitment, if any, the mobile operators have to delivering coverage in rural areas.
“Delivering this mobile coverage is vital to boosting the economy, providing safety and improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the nation.”
Analysis of Ofcom data conducted by the CLA shows that while 4G can currently be accessed on all host networks across 58% of the UK, rural areas are served the worst.
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer added: “For years the mobile companies have promised to improve rural coverage. They have extracted public money, sweeping changes in the law and a range of other concessions on the back of these promises. They are not being held to account when they don’t deliver. It is time to impose a legally binding target to cover 95% of the UK with 4G by 2022.”
The ten local authorities with the lowest rates of indoor 4G coverage in England are all given the most rural Government classification of ‘Mainly Rural’, and have indoor coverage of less than 15%. The worst served are Rutland (3.42%), Ribble Valley (6.37%) and Maldon (8.63%). Staffordshire is 13th worst with 16.14%
The worst local authorities in England for indoor 4G coverage from all providers, which all have less than 20% coverage, are:
1. Rutland – 3.42%
2. Ribble Valley – 6.37%
3. Maldon – 8.63%
4. South Norfolk – 10.64%
5. Breckland – 11.22%
6. Melton – 13.76%
7. Copeland – 14.13%
8. North Norfolk – 14.18%
9. North Dorset – 14.24%
10. Mid Devon – 14.25%
11. Richmondshire – 14.86%
12. Barrow in Furness – 15.79% (Classified as ‘Urban with Significant Rural’, all others in bottom 15 are ‘Mainly Rural or ‘Largely Rural’)
13. Staffordshire – 16.14%
14. Eden – 17.87%
15. North Devon – 19.11%
The CLA has compiled this list using data from Ofcom’s Connected Nations report, published in December 2017 which can be viewed here.