The British Chambers of Commerce has welcomed the Government’s announcement today of a £1 billion agreement to take 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK landmass by the end of 2025.
BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said: “This is a major win for our Chamber ‘No More Not Spots’ campaign, which has worked across the UK to identify and fix the mobile ‘not spots’ holding back businesses in so many parts of the country.
“Access to mobile voice and data services is a basic requirement of business today, and it is essential to consumers and for linking people and communities.
“Today’s announcement is a long-overdue step in the right direction, and Chambers will continue to work with operators and government during the rollout to ensure that the new Shared Rural Network gives our local communities and businesses the mobile coverage they need.”
Last year, a county-wide broadband survey run by Somerset Chamber of Commerce and ultra-fast broadband provider Truespeed found many rural businesses were relying on 4G for internet connections because of poor broadband connectivity.
The £1 billion pot will be used to fund the Shared Rural Network, a deal with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone to invest in a network of new and existing phone masts, overseen by a jointly owned company called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited, they would all share.
The Government has pledged it will provide guaranteed coverage to 280,000 premises and 16,000km of roads and, in time, better indoor coverage in around 1.2m business premises and homes.
The Government has also allocated £5 billion to subsidise the roll-out of gigabit-capable broadband in the harder-to-reach areas of the country.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “For too many people in the countryside a bad phone signal is a daily frustration sos todays we’re delivering on the Prime Minister’s 100-day promise to get a £1 billion landmark deal signed with industry to end poor and patchy mobile rural coverage.
“This is an important milestone to level-up the country, improve people’s lives and increase prosperity across the length and breadth of our United Kingdom.”
Philip Jansen, Chief Executive, BT Group added: “High-speed mobile connectivity is a central part of modern life whether you live and work in a city centre or in the countryside. Building out fast and reliable access to 4G across the country is a national mission and we’re playing a leading role, collaborating with government and the other mobile network operators in the UK, to make this happen. The Shared Rural Network is something we can all be proud of.”