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Rural broadband and mobile take centre stage in MP debate

Slow broadband isolates rural communities, says MP

Rural mobile coverage can be patchy

Rural mobile coverage can be patchy

A rural broadband and mobile services debate has been kicked off today in the House of Commons, prompted by MPs’ concerns over poor coverage in rural areas.

The debate is being opened by MP for Penrith and the Border Rory Stewart, with cross-party support from MPs across the country. 

The motion behind the debate states that ‘rural businesses and rural communities across the UK are isolated and undermined by slow broadband and the lack of mobile voice and mobile broadband coverage.’ 

The debate is likely to be of interest to regular Which? Conversation readers who live in the country. In an article last year on a delay to the broadband universal service commitment, many commenters expressed frustration at the disparity between broadband speeds available in urban versus rural areas. 

Two million could get better mobile coverage

If the motion is passed, MPs that support it hope that mobile broadband coverage could be extended to an additional two million people around Britain, while broadband in rural areas could be extended. 

MPs are calling for telecoms watchdog Ofcom to increase mobile coverage obligations to 98% of the UK when new mobile spectrum is auctioned in 2012 – up from the currently stated obligation of 95%. 

They also want to ensure that Government fulfils its commitments on the future of broadband in the UK – both by building the best superfast broadband network in Europe, and by delivering at least 2Mbps broadband services to everyone in the UK by 2015.

Which? mobile and broadband expert Ceri Stanaway says: ‘Many Which? members and readers that live in rural areas tell us they feel frustrated by poor mobile and broadband coverage and speed where they live. 

‘While the cost and technological developments necessary to eradicate the rural/urban digital divide in the UK mean there are no easy solutions to the problem, this is clearly an issue that matters to consumers, so it’s good news that these topics are getting the consideration they deserve at the highest level.’

If your broadband choice is limited by geography, find the best broadband deals without restricted geographic availability in Which? broadband reviews, or find out how to complain about poor broadband speed. 

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