The CLA (Country Land and Business Association) has urged industry officials and Government to work together to address their conflicting goals and end the rural-urban digital divide on 4G mobile coverage.
The CLA, which represents more than 30,000 rural landowners and businesses, has responded to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) consultation on ‘strategic priorities for telecoms’.
It highlights the divided approach to mobile coverage, where there are two conflicting targets. DCMS is working towards 95% mobile coverage by 2022 while Ofcom has proposed 90% by 2024.
The CLA consultation response to DCMS states: “We believe it to be unfortunate that the Government and the telecoms regulator are unable to agree to a common target for mobile connectivity. We believe that Government must clarify this situation as a matter of urgency.”
Targets for broadband are clearer by comparison, with a pledge for a full-fibre broadband connection to every home by 2033.
CLA Deputy President Mark Bridgeman said: “We need to learn the lessons from broadband where Government and stakeholder consensus, as well as leadership by the regulator, achieved wins for those who live or work in the countryside.
“There is no reason why a similar approach should not be applied to rural 4G, starting with forcing mobile operators to adopt rural roaming. The CLA is ready to work with operators and Ofcom to work on the tangible steps which need to be taken to ending the urban-rural digital divide.”