Conservative MP urges Ofcom to use spectrum auction to help connect isolated communities
Three is providing residents in the Cumbrian village of Kaber with a year’s free mobile broadband access via a dongle or MiFi device as part of its Rural Broadband Working Group project.
The project has seen Three team up with The Countryside Alliance, Race Online 2012 and local and national politicians to find areas which can use mobile broadband in areas where there is no fixed-line access.
Speaking at the launch, Conservative MP for Penrith and Borders Rory Stewart said that Ofcom should ensure that the 4G spectrum auction is carried out quickly to help rural communities get internet access.
“This is Ofcom’s last chance in a generation to give rural communities the help they need in getting access to broadband,” he said.
“There are 6 million people in the UK who will be left isolated if Ofcom does not get this auction process right, and that means ensuring there is a minimum coverage commitment in the auction structure to guarantee operators get mobile broadband coverage to outlying areas of the country.
“This auction must not be about Ofcom getting a quick and easy lump sum off the operators bidding for the rights to use this spectrum.
“It must be about Ofcom securing the future of rural communities, securing these communities’ access to mobile broadband coverage, and ensuring that the people living, working and learning in these areas can access all the benefits of broadband that those living in urban areas can.
“If Ofcom fails to do this, more and more rural communities will simply die out and disappear.”
Three claims that it must be given access to 800MHz spectrum in the 4G auction in order for it to be able to provide rural communities such as Kaber with effective mobile broadband.
Three CEO Dave Dyson (pictured) said: “Mobile can and does give thousands of rural communities essential access to a broadband service.
“For many without a fixed-line service, it will continue to be the only way they can affordably get online and reap the benefits that access brings.
“But next year’s spectrum auction is going to be vital in bringing that option to even more of those currently without a decent mobile signal.
“Three has already helped build the UK’s biggest 3G network, but with access to just the higher 2.1Ghz spectrum, there are still areas we struggle to reach due to the least competitive distribution of spectrum in Europe.”