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Rural mobile coverage still sucks, EE blames Government

Mobile network EE has hit out at the UK government for failing to tackle the problem of poor rural coverage.

Despite Chancellor George Osborne making flirtatious overtures towards to the mobile industry during his Budget speech, promising to invest £600 million in reclaiming the 700MHz spectrum, the nation’s largest mobile provider claims the government has “failed to outline clear policies to tackle the UK’s biggest connectivity issue.”

While EE said it was buoyed by the Chancellor’s Budget pledge that the government would invest heavily in improving mobile infrastructure, it claims that a better thought-out plan was needed if people in rural areas were to enjoy the same levels of 3G and 4G connectivity as city-bound folk.

In a statement, EE said: “Despite some positive initiatives outlined in the budget to support digital infrastructure, government has again failed to outline clear policies to tackle the UK’s biggest connectivity issue – the underlying reasons why parts of rural Britain suffer from poor mobile coverage.

“It is critical that the next government revises business rates and reforms the archaic Electronic Communications Code (ECC) to support the rollout of mobile coverage and wireless broadband in rural areas.”

The ECC regulates the raising of new mobile masts and transmitters, among other items of network infrastructure here in the UK.

Some believe that companies based rurally in the UK are being penalised by the Government’s failure to update infrastructure to allow higher internet speeds in the cuds. John Allen, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, stated that broadband connectivity is critical for smaller firms.

“Of equal importance is the increase of the Universal Service Obligation to 5Mbps, which is an important first step to help rural businesses access the minimum standards of digital services they so urgently require,” he said.

What is clear in the case of both mobile and internet coverage is that huge spending needs to happen to bolster services available to the public. And despite Mr Osborne’s lofty aspirations, no information on how the government plans to fund the improvements, or when indeed they plan to kick them off, has so far been shared.

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