Mobile Telephone Coverage

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 14th February 2013.

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Photo of John Glen John Glen Conservative, Salisbury 9:30 am, 14th February 2013

what steps her Department is taking to improve mobile telephone coverage across the UK.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Only 0.3% of the UK population is not served by any mobile network operators. The mobile infrastructure project is addressing up to 60,000 premises in total, including not spots and the 10 roads announced in the 2012 Budget. When 4G services come on stream they should go to at least 98% of homes.

Photo of John Glen John Glen Conservative, Salisbury

I thank the Minister for that response. Mobile 4G will be increasingly important in rural communities such as those around Salisbury. Will the Minister clarify the Government’s latest thinking on securing better access to BT networks by mobile operators, as that will be vital to the cost and speed of 4G mobile internet connection experienced across the UK, particularly in rural communities?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

We look across the piece at ensuring that we remove any regulatory obstacles to the roll-out of mobile phone infrastructure. As my hon. Friend points out, getting backhaul for mobile phone masts is incredibly important, and I would be happy to hear his concerns. We do, of course, work constructively with Ofcom and BT to ensure that that is effective.

Photo of Alan Reid Alan Reid Liberal Democrat, Argyll and Bute

I am pleased with the progress that the Government are making and the Minister’s commitment. In a vastly spread out rural area such as Argyll and Bute, many communities do not have access to mobile phone coverage. Will the Minister tell the House when he hopes to appoint a supplier for the mobile infrastructure project?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I understand that we have gone out to tender for the procurement of the mobile infrastructure project, so we should hear some good news in the spring.