Mobile Coverage in Rural Areas

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 10th December 2020.

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Photo of Robert Largan Robert Largan Conservative, High Peak

What progress his Department has made on improving mobile coverage in rural areas.

Photo of Simon Baynes Simon Baynes Conservative, Clwyd South

What progress his Department has made on improving mobile coverage in rural areas.

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Government have agreed a £1 billion deal with mobile network operators to deliver the shared rural network. This landmark deal will deliver 95% coverage by the end of 2025. The exact deployment plans will be managed by operators and we look forward to seeing more details of those.

Photo of Robert Largan Robert Largan Conservative, High Peak

The unique geography of the Peak District means that we have some of the worst mobile phone coverage blackspots anywhere in the country. I welcome the introduction of the shared rural network, but can the Minister provide further information to the House on when my constituents might see some of the benefit of this? Would he agree to meet me, so we can discuss how we can roll out better phone coverage to the whole High Peak?

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The shared rural network is already benefiting some parts of the country, but my hon. Friend is right that in areas such as High Peak it cannot come soon enough. I am very happy to meet him to discuss that, and I am very happy for him to join me in continuing to encourage operators to make their plans public as quickly as possible.

Photo of Simon Baynes Simon Baynes Conservative, Clwyd South

Will the Minister join me in praising the often unsung work of local councils in improving rural mobile connectivity, such as the digital officers of Wrexham and Denbighshire councils in Clwyd South, who bring together local solutions to complex mobile coverage problems?

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that, whether it is in Wrexham and Denbighshire or up and down the country, the work of local authorities has been absolutely essential in delivering the kind of bespoke solutions that work best for local communities. I am grateful to those in Wrexham and Denbighshire who have engaged closely with my Department’s barrier-busting taskforce to make sure that his constituents get the connectivity that they deserve.