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Business in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland calls for improved mobile coverage

Business leaders in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have called on the UK Government to improve mobile phone coverage. 

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged the UK Government to back Ofcom’s proposals to attach obligations to improve coverage to an upcoming sale of mobile spectrum.  But - in a joint letter to the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales - FSB argues that Ministers must ensure these coverage targets are as ambitious as possible. 

The most recent Ofcom data, published last week, shows that UK mobile phone coverage is poorer outside England.

Ben Francis, FSB’s policy chair for Wales, said: “Modern digital infrastructure is as important to business as good transport links. But for too long mobile phone coverage in Wales has lagged behind acceptable modern standards. 

“As we look to the future, UK Ministers must ensure that ambitious mobile targets ensure that no community is left behind.”

Ofcom is currently consulting on coverage obligations in the award of the
700 MHz spectrum band. The regulator proposes that successful operators would provide good voice and data services across at least 92% of the UK’s total landmass. Obligations would also be attached to provide good coverage across 92% of Northern Ireland and England’s landmass, 83% of Wales’ landmass and 76% of Scotland’s landmass.  

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor said: “Mobile phone coverage in many parts of Scotland is unacceptably poor. This makes it more difficult to do business, and harms the experience of visitors. 

“Ministers must ensure that Ofcom squeezes every drop of value from their upcoming sale – driving better coverage in areas that have been underserviced in the past.” 

Tina McKenzie, FSB’s policy chair for Northern Ireland, said: “While progress has been made in closing the connectivity gap across the UK, there’s still much work to be done. Businesses in Northern Ireland must have access to mobile and broadband infrastructure fit for the 21st century.” 

In the letter to the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell MP, the Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns MP and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley MP, FSB argues:

“Across the length and breadth of the UK, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) wants to see digital infrastructure which meets the needs of businesses and local communities. We expect that you share these ambitions, and we look forward to working with you to turn them into a reality.”