A cross-party group of UK politicians urged regulator Ofcom to up its game in terms of reporting on 4G service availability in rural areas.
In a letter, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Business said the regulator should incorporate details on rural coverage in its reporting to “assure consumers and rural people that improvements are being made to 4G availability”.
The group, which includes representatives from the main political parties, noted it was “initially pleased” by measures proposed by the watchdog, such as reduced spectrum charges in return for improved coverage and the installation of new masts in rural areas.
But it also noted that monitoring will only take place at the end of a period of obligations (2020 to 2024), when operators will need to provide proof that infrastructure is in place.
“Ofcom has acknowledged across several reports and especially in its guidance to government that mobile operators are reluctant to build masts in rural areas due to significant costs…therefore it seems irresponsible for there to be a lack of monitoring during this period,” the group wrote.
It was suggested that Ofcom include rural coverage progress as part of its annual Connected Nations report to “assure consumers and rural people that improvements are being made to 4G availability”.
Ofcom has previously noted errors in the way that some operators have reported coverage, although not always to their own benefit.
A number of ways to address rural connectivity challenges are being explored by the regulator, including the ability to roam between operators, a proposal which was not universally welcomed.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back