MPs from across the East of England have shown their support for a campaign to improve mobile phone coverage in the countryside. #4GForAll, led by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), urges the mobile industry and regulators to take the necessary steps to end the shocking rural/urban digital divide.
While a handful of cities in the UK have seen the recent launch of the new 5G network, those living in rural areas are still struggling for even basic mobile reception. Ofcom’s latest statistics reveal that geographic 4G coverage for all four major networks is currently only 66% across the UK.
Current proposals by the industry have suggested they will aim to achieve 95% geographic coverage by 2026. However, the CLA and others including consumer group Which?, have argued that these proposals are not legally binding, delivered over too slow a timeframe, have no transparency on when improvements will be delivered, and are backloaded, meaning they have until 2026 to deliver improvements.
The following MPs attended the CLA’s Celebration of Rural Business reception held in the House of Commons on Wednesday 19 June 2019, and backed the CLA’s campaign to improve rural 4G coverage:
- Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden
- James Cleverly, MP for Braintree
- Andrew Lewer, MP for Northampton South
- Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock
- Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness
CLA East Regional Director Ben Underwood said: “For too long rural users have been dealt a poor hand when it comes to mobile coverage. We’ve been let down by vague assurances that things will get better in the future. Only a robust approach by the regulator, with legally binding targets for 2024, will finally ensure a fair deal within a fair time frame.”