Rural Broadband and digital only services

The CLA has formally responded to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee inquiry into broadband in rural areas and digital only services.  The CLA response recognises the change in government policy to full fibre by 2033 which it supports but also stresses the importance of narrowing the present rural-urban digital divide.  The CLA also makes clear that it will not support the mobile operators proposal for a Single Rural Network unless there are a series of legal guarantees that targets will be met and that the proposed timetable for 95% geographic coverage is shortened.

Statement of Strategic Priorities for Telecommunications

The CLA has formally responded to the Government’s Statement of Strategic Priorities for telecommunications. The CLA has reaffirmed its objective that there has to be universal digital connectivity both for fixed line and mobile telecommunications in order to eradicate the rural-urban digital divide.

Supporting the Government’s long term Full Fibre programme that will see every premise in the UK have access to fibre connections straight to the home and business, the CLA has stated that the change in government policy vindicates the CLA’s telecommunication policy which has been developed over a number of years. The Universal Service Obligation, that will provide each household with at least a 10Mbps connection by 2020, is a clear policy success.

However, the CLA recognises the  challenges ahead including the need to increase awareness of digital connectivity for small businesses as well as ensuring that mobile coverage increases significantly as both 4G and 5G are rolled out so that rural communities are no longer left behind.

700 MHz Spectrum Licence Auction

The CLA has formally responded to Ofcom's consultation on the award of the 700MHz spectrum.  This award to mobile operators should lead to an increase in mobile coverage across rural areas.  The CLA is generally supportive of the revised proposals for the future 700MHz spectrum auction as being in the interests of those who live and work in rural areas.  The proposals to extend mobile coverage to 90% of the UK landmass through, for example, the building of at least 500 new masts is integral for rural communities to be able to benefit from modern day digital communications.  However, we have made it clear to ofcom that it has to ensure that the coverage obligations of those operators awarded new spectrum are monitored on an annual basis through Ofcom's Connected Nations report.  In addition, the CLA has stressed that Ofcom should formally propose the introduction of a national rural roaming network.

Ensuring tenants' access to gigabit-capable connections

The CLA's response to the Government's consultation on a tenant's right to a telecommunication service (broadband) focuses on the need to achieve a balance between the needs of operators and the rights of landlords.  In the event of an absentee landlord, operators should have the right of access but which is legally controlled.  As important, is the need to put in place an effective process of engagement between the operator and the landlord to ensure access to communication services as well as achieving an ongoing and transparent dialogue.

Energy Red Tape Challenge

The formal scope of the Red Tape Challenge excludes regulations on tax and spend measures and the activities of the independent Economic Regulators - for example the Renewables Obligation (tax and spend) and license conditions for electricity suppliers (Ofgem).

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