MPs call for action on rural broadband

A group of MPs will today call on the Government to improve broadband for rural communities in a backbench business motion to be heard in the House of Commons.

MPs call for action on rural broadband

In a surprisingly specific and well-supported call to arms, a total of 105 MPs have signed a motion calling for action to counter the digital divide that still sees many isolated areas with pitifully slow broadband.

Rural businesses and rural communities across the UK are isolated and undermined by slow broadband

Not only are broadband services falling behind, the signatories argued, but even mobile voice and data services are inadequate.

The motion demands that “this House recognises that rural businesses and rural communities across the UK are isolated and undermined by slow broadband and the lack of mobile voice and mobile broadband coverage”.

Such motions are normally only discussed after being raised by the Government or opposition, and the politicians say the fact that it is up for debate shows how important the issue is to the UK.

4G coverage demands

The group is urging the Government to make Ofcom impose a wider coverage obligation for the 800MHz spectrum licence when the 4G licence auction starts next year.

The MPs argued 4G could be used to deliver mobile broadband signal to rural areas, but only if carriers make it widely available.

Ofcom currently anticipates setting a minimum limit of 95% UK coverage, but that would apply only to one licence holder out of the major network operators – and even that is still open for debate as the 4G auction proposals are only in the consultation stage.

The motion “urges Ofcom to increase the coverage obligation attached to the 800MHz spectrum licence to 98% and calls upon the Government to fulfil its commitment to build both the best superfast broadband network in Europe and provide everyone in the UK with a minimum of 2Mbits/sec by 2015”.

The issue will be discussed later this afternoon.

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