Mobile operators should be under a legal obligation to deliver universal mobile coverage for rural areas throughout the country, the CLA has told MPs.
The Digital Economy Bill, which sets out provisions for a new legal right to superfast broadband for all home and business premises by 2020, will be debated in the House of Commons later today (September 13).
But the CLA said the Bill was ‘flawed’ and did not include a similar commitment to universal coverage for mobile across the whole of the UK.
CLA president Ross Murray said mobile devices were a ’vital’ part of modern life and brought the opportunity to ’transform’ the lives of people who live and work in the countryside, but that potential ’continues to be stifled because of poor and inconsistent coverage’.
“Ministers have decided to give major multinational telecommunications companies the legal power to force farmers and other landowners to accommodate their equipment on their property without having to pay market rents. A decision that effectively grants mobile companies cost savings that amount to more than a billion pounds," said Mr Murray.
“However the proposed law is extremely weak in terms of what it obliges the mobile industry to deliver. We are calling on MPs to enact obligations that guarantee that the benefits this law will provide to mobile operators will be fully transferred to consumers, especially those living, working and visiting our rural areas. A universal coverage target for mobile, complementary to the commitment for universal superfast broadband already contained in this Bill, is the best way to achieve this.”
The NFU is lobbying for fast, affordable and reliable broadband and mobile phone coverage for farmers, growers and their rural communities.
Farmers are being asked to complete a short survey which will help to build a picture of provision in the countryside, which in turn informs the union’s lobbying work.
Evidence will be collected both online and through a telephone consultation of NFU members during the next three weeks. Take nfuresearch.nfuonline.com/wh/s.asp?k%3D147014575541&source=gmail&ust=1473853356765000&usg=AFQjCNFlMFqOCEwi8-dMpY9qj5oQaHxWmg">part in the NFU Farm Broadband and Mobile Coverage Survey here.