George Osborne has announced plans to spend £150 million on ensuring mobile connection in rural areas, though one MP has expressed doubts about placing the masts in the countryside.
As part of the Conservative party conference, Osborne indicated that the government will splash out on ensuring 99 precent of the country has mobile access. While another piece of Osborne conference spinning might well be met with a chorus of ‘about bloody time’, it seems that the government is at last serious about making sure all of Britain is covered. Even if it is not until 2013.
According to the Treasury, the investment will improve quality for the “5 to 10 per cent of consumers and businesses” that work in areas where mobile coverage is affected.
The procurement of additional mobile phone mast sites to increase coverage will begin in 2012, though it could be 2013 before any improvements are seen.
According to Scottish Labour MP for Central Ayrshire, Brian Donohoe, there will be problems with keeping the locals happy in rural areas.
“All the people in rural areas will want reception but they will not be happy about many masts being put in the countryside,” he told TechEye.
Althought the Conservative party has indicated that there will be some say on a local level, Donohoe is not convinced.
“The experience is not a good one as far as placements of mobile masts are concerned,” he continued.
And Donohoe has a point. Some critics say the UK should be awash with 4G by now – rather than struggling with mobile not-spots.
However, mobile expert Ernest Doku at uSwitch, who as far as we are aware does not feel the Lake District is about to be destroyed by legions of masts, the government is addressing a critical problem.
“The major rationale behind the investment is to improve the UK’s core mobile infrastructure, rather than looking into next generation technologies,” he told TechEye.
“The £150m is earmarked to primarily bring coverage to those 6 million people living in rural areas and sections of the UK that are currently mobile ‘not-spots’, which is arguably a far more pressing situation than the provision of services such as 4G.
“This is to bring blanket mobile reception to the UK rather than an exercise in future proofing networks across the country, but with smartphones already beginning to cause a strain on some mobile networks, steps towards solutions such as LTE are doubtlessly on the cards for the Government and providers alike.
“Dealing with mobile black spots is essential in enabling UK consumers to get connected, and the Chancellor’s steps to remedy the current situation should be commended.”