To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of potential effect of the switch off of the Three 3G network in 2024 on rural communities; and what steps the Government plans to take to support businesses and individuals in rural communities as 3G networks are phased out.
There is no explicit regulatory requirement for mobile network operators to maintain a 3G network and it is for operators to take final decisions on the provision of network services. The Government welcomes 3G networks being switched off in a responsible way and will continue to work with Ofcom and mobile network operators to ensure a smooth transition that meets the needs of business users and consumers, including rural communities.
We are committed to extending good quality mobile coverage across the UK. In March 2020, the government announced a deal with the mobile network operators to increase 4G coverage to 95% of the UK landmass. And the majority of the population can now access basic 5G. The Wireless Infrastructure Strategy will set a new ambition for 5G to make sure communities across the country benefit from secure, reliable and resilient connections.