Improving mobile phone coverage and broadband infrastructure were key pillars of the Government's Digital Strategy unveiled today by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley. The report recognises that although 99% of UK premises have indoor voice coverage, not enough of outside space has a strong enough mobile phone signal to make calls. The four major mobile network operators have a legally binding obligation to reach at least 90% landmass coverage by the end of this year. This will help to keep rural communities in Faversham and Mid Kent connected to the digital economy.
The Government also expects 98% of the UK landmass to have 4G coverage by the end of 2017. Many businesses and individuals rely on data on the go to check train times, send emails and browse the web. People expect to be able to access mobile data wherever they are, so it is welcome news that the Government recognises this and is seeking to enforce it. The Government has said that it will consider whether future auctions of radio spectrum should include commitments to increase coverage and reliability.
Having infrastructure to deliver 4G will be vital for the introduction of 5G. This new generation of mobile data coverage will be a step change in download and upload speeds. 5G will also facilitate the growth of the internet of things where numerous devices can communicate with each other to improve user experiences. Improving digital infrastructure will include upgrading coverage for A and B roads, a majority of which have partial or no coverage for basic calls and texts.
The Government is already investing £1.7 billion to bring broadband to 95% of UK premises by December 2017, and is introducing a Universal Service Obligation for broadband to put it on the same legal footing as other essential services like water and electricity. In this day and age everyone should expect to have at least basic broadband provision.