Broadband: Suffolk Coastal

Department for Science, Innovation and Technology written question – answered at on 22 April 2024.

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Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey Conservative, Suffolk Coastal

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to help improve (a) 4G and (b) 5G coverage in (i) Suffolk Coastal constituency and (ii) Suffolk.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

This Government is taking steps to improve both 4G and 5G coverage across the country.

In the East of England our £1bn agreement with the industry to deliver the Shared Rural Network programme (SRN) will see 4G coverage from all four Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) rise to 93% of the geographic landmass, up from 90% when the programme began in 2020.

In Suffolk Coastal, 4G coverage already stands at 81% geographic coverage from all four MNOs and almost 100% from at least one MNO. While the SRN is focused on areas with poorer coverage, it is not the only focus for infrastructure investment for mobile connectivity. In addition, the MNOs independently invest around £2 billion annually across the UK in enhancing and improving their networks.

According to Ofcom’s Connected Nations report, basic, non-standalone, 5G is available outside 74% of premises in the Suffolk Coastal constituency from at least one MNO. In the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, published in April 2023, we announced a new ambition for nationwide coverage of higher quality standalone 5G in all populated areas by 2030. The strategy includes a series of measures to help the private sector invest in 5G networks by supporting investment and driving the take-up of innovative, 5G-enabled tech by businesses and the public sector.

The Department provides extensive guidance for local authorities and operators to help facilitate broadband and mobile deployment through the Digital Connectivity Portal. We have also taken steps to make it easier and cheaper for operators to deploy 4G and 5G. This includes reforming the planning system in England. Alongside this, measures within the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2022, will support the deployment of wireless infrastructure, including 4G and 5G.

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