MORE than 40 MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Business have written to Ofcom following concerns about whether their commitments to rural 4G will be upheld.

500 new mobile masts in rural areas have been pledged, and 90 percent geographic coverage by all four networks across the UK. This has been welcomed by landowners, farmers and rural businesses across England and Wales. However, there are currently no plans in place for how this will be monitored, with no obligation on mobile operators to report on successful mast completions until the end of the review process in 2024. Operators have historically been reluctant to build masts in rural areas owing to the significant costs involved.

Chair of the APPG on Rural Business Julian Sturdy MP said: “While Ofcom’s initial announcement truly has the potential to revolutionise mobile coverage across the countryside, it will fall by the wayside if progress is not monitored on a regular basis. We need annual reporting to ensure that mobile operators are holding their promises to the public on delivering a 4G network which works for people wherever they live.”

The Country Land and Business Association represents around 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses across England and Wales and runs the #4Gforall campaign. Deputy president Mark Bridgman said: “increasing 4G coverage will unlock the potential of rural businesses and the countryside and we cannot let this opportunity slip owing to lax oversight. Given mobile operators’ previous reluctance to invest in rural areas, annual reporting on progress should be compulsory.”