The Welsh Assembly is looking at strategies to boost connectivity in Wales, but a new report suggests that both the Westminster and Cardiff governments need to do more to facilitate the evolution of Wales’ mobile networks
A government select committee has found that both the Welsh and UK government’s must do more to facilitate connectivity in Wales if the country is not to be left behind the rest of its UK neighbours.
The National Assembly for Wales’ Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee published an update to its Mobile Action Plan today, which set forth a number of key recommendations for improving connectivity in Wales.
"Mobile phone coverage in Wales consistently lags behind the rest of the UK. Our topography presents a unique challenge to mobile phone operators trying to reach the communities spread across those hard to reach areas," said Russell George AM, chair of the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee.
George said that whilst connectivity in Wales had improved since the launch of the Committee’s 12-point Mobile Action Plan in September 2017, it was hard to corroborate how much of an impact the Action Plan had had.
"More can be done to use the levers the Welsh Government has to develop our planning and non-domestic rates regimes to potentially tip the scales of commercial viability in favour of further investment in some areas. Where that is not possible, the Welsh Government could play a greater role in encouraging mobile operators to share masts to cut the costs of reducing the number of not-spots and partial not-spots in Wales," he said.
"There is also more the UK Government could do, and it is important that the Welsh Government continues to lobby them effectively on this issue."
Among the reports key recommendations was that the Welsh government should "allow higher masts under the permitted planning regime" to overcome the difficulties posed by the country’s challenging topography.
The report also recommends that the Welsh Government should liaise with mobile network operators as soon as is practicable to identify the challenges of rolling out 5G networks and consider strategies to address those challenges "using the levers it has at its disposal".
Improving connectivity across the UK will be a key feature of Connected Britain 2019. Held on the 18th-19th June 2019, the event will bring together the key stakeholders in Britain’s fixed line and mobile connectivity markets. Click here to find out how you can be a part of the event.
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