The results of an enquiry by The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Rural Business into improving 4G coverage in rural areas have now been published in their report 4G in Rural Areas. The report has been prepared following criticisms of the current roll out, which has in the main left rural people and businesses feeling they had been abandoned to poor coverage in favour of urban areas, which provide a bigger financial reward for mobile operators.

Amongst other recommendations, there is suggested the introduction of “rural roaming” which would be the introduction of a single rural network in areas which are hard to reach, with the ability to roam between network providers allowing users, regardless of their service provider, to access the network. The improvement of the 4G network is essential if the Government wishes to roll out online only returns/applications for businesses over the next few years (i.e. for VAT returns under the new Making Tax Digital regulations, BPS applications, some CSS applications, livestock movement notifications etc.). On the 22nd August there was a joint statement issued by telecom providers, landowners and the Government reaffirming their support of plans to establish a “full fibre network and 5G infrastructure” and to reaffirm the commitments between them in Ofcom’s Code of Practice, and to reiterate support for the Government’s ambition to be a leading global economy underpinned by a world-class full-fibre network and 5G infrastructure.