Government debates network connectivity improvement issues


MPs, including Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey, spoke about how they can work better with the mobile operators to help them achieve their connectivity obligations

The UK Government yesterday debated issues around network connectivity improvement issues and how they can be resolved.

The 30 minute debate, ‘Mobile phone coverage and the Electronics Communication Code’ took place in the second chamber of the House of Commons and saw MPs discuss problems around mobile quality, access to land for the erection of masts and reforms to the code.

It follows comments made to Mobile News by Olaf Swantee last month that there had been a breakdown in trust between operators and the Government after seeing significant price rises on spectrum and continued failure to act on promises made around achieving 90 per cent coverage by 2017.

The debate was hosted by MP for Brigg and Goole Andrew Percy. Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy Ed Vaisey (pictured) concluded the debate, and also included comments from MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Simon Hart and MP for Beverley and Holderness Graham Stuart.

Government can help

Vaizey pointed out that the mobile operators spent around £2 billion combined on 4G spectrum licences at the beginning of 2013 and said the Government can work more with them to help them achieve their coverage objectives.

“The mobile operators have contributed some £2 billion to the Treasury’s coffers in the last 4G auction, and we now have the fastest roll-out and take-up of 4G in the world,” he said. “They are to be applauded for their achievements. It is also true, however, that the Government can help.

“The key thing that the Government can do is to work with mobile operators to increase coverage.

‘We can work together’

“I have also been slightly astonished that organisations such as the National Trust have point blank refused to have masts on their land and planning authorities have turned down applications for masts despite local communities wanting them. Some members of local communities have even put concrete blocks in front of the generators provided for mobile masts.

“We can work together with landowners to provide them with better coverage as long as they are prepared to support mobile masts and not see them as a cash cow or simply oppose them.”