Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Newspaper column 30 October 2019 - Good news for mobile phone signal 'not spots!'

The deadline for this week’s column falls in between two important votes in Parliament. In both the Prime Minister is calling for a General Election, in order to break the deadlock of this Parliament doing everything it can to stop Brexit, and in the process losing the respect of the general public.

Monday night’s vote under the Fixed Term Parliament Vote saw the same sorry situation where the Leader of the Opposition continues to call for a General Election and then he and his MPs don’t vote for it. The Government did not secure the required two thirds of MPs voting for an election, which is required, after the Labour MPs refused to vote at all, abstaining.

Tuesday’s vote won’t happen until later today and so I can’t really comment on it, other than that I will be voting with the Government to unblock this Brexit delay and hold a General Election as soon as possible.

Away from Brexit, in other news, last week saw a great announcement for Cornwall as the Government announced a £1 billion deal with the mobile phone industry to banish rural not-spots.
Areas of poor or no mobile phone signal, the so-call ‘not-spots’ are an annoying feature that plagues rural areas. While phone signal has improved throughout Cornwall in recent years, there are still plenty of these places where you simply cannot get a signal on any network in Mid-Cornwall, from Pentewan to Charlestown to Polmassick, or Crantock and St Mawgan to name but a few. This can be annoying for day to day life but particularly important in instances where emergency services or first responders are urgently needed, or for businesses that need reliable mobile connections.

This announcement will see high-quality 4G coverage given to 95 per cent of the UK by 2025, meaning consumers will get good 4G signal on the go wherever they live, work or travel.  Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan has said this deal will provide additional coverage to 280,000 homes and businesses and 16,000km of roads.

The plans include all operators sharing phone masts is a world first. A £530 million proposal from the UK’s mobile network operators for a Shared Rural Network with the potential for it to be matched by £500 million investment from the Government.

Government-owned mobile infrastructure built as part of the Emergency Services Network will also be made available to all four operators, taking full advantage of government assets. This is expected to contribute to the coverage target by delivering up to an additional 2% of geographic coverage per operator, in some of the most remote, rural locations.

Improved connectivity for Cornwall in this digital age is something I have long called for. Better 4G connectivity will make flexible working easier, boost regional economic growth and close the digital divide that exists across the country. I am pleased to see this announcement and will continue to work to ensure Cornwall is better connected in all areas.

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