The National Infrastructure Commission said the UK was being held back by poor mobile phone connectivity, as it called for an end to “digital deserts” in places that should have adequate signals such as rail routes, roads and city centres.
Countries including the US and Japan already have data volumes four to five higher than the UK, the report found.
The commission said the government must now ensure that the next generation of 5G spectrum face the same problems
In a list of recommendations, it argued there should be a new dedicated cabinet minister in charge of the UK’s digital future, ensuring mobile connectivity is competitive with the rest of the world.
It called for ministers and Ofcom, the media regulator, to work together to ensure a set of standards known as a universal service obligation no later than 2025.
Grant Shapps, the former Tory chairman who now leads the British Infrastructure Group of MPs, called the report a wakeup call for the government, as he accused it of being too willing to listen to the excuses of mobile phone operators about poor signal.
“This confirms what we have been saying for a long time. Over the years, ministers have been far too easy on the glib promises given by the telecoms providers and I think that has been combined with ineffective and weak regulation from Ofcom,” Shapps said.