AS part the CLA’s campaign to improve rural mobile coverage, ‘4G For All’, the organisation has backed broadband and mobile service regulator Ofcom over its measures to compel mobile network operators to improve coverage in rural areas.

Ofcom this year will be auctioning two high spectrum wireless bands to mobile network operators, under the condition that the winning network operators will have to provide coverage from at least 500 new mobile mast stations in rural areas.

The spectrum auction price will be discounted to reflect the mobile network operators’ investment required, which will help overcome a major barrier to improving rural coverage.

CLA deputy president Mark Bridgeman called the unreliable mobile and internet reception in rural areas “digital discrimination against people who live and work in the countryside” and said that the poor coverage could have “detrimental impacts to their businesses as well as home life.”

Mr Bridgeman said: “It has long been clear that mobile network operators will not invest sufficiently in improving coverage in rural areas unless they are compelled to do so. Ofcom has shown that it is serious about ending the digital divide that has disadvantaged rural businesses and communities for far too long.

“We will keep working to ensure people living and working in the countryside benefit from these new plans as swiftly as possible.

“Progress in rolling out 4G to the countryside has been painfully slow, but Ofcom’s changes to the spectrum auction set out a path for the significant improvements that are crucial to unlocking the potential of the countryside. This is more important now than ever, as rural businesses prepare for the challenges and opportunities of Brexit.”