CLA Responds to EFRA Report on Rural Connectivity

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has responded to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Commitee report into Rural Connectivity which calls for measures to end the rural/digital connectivity divide.

CLA Deputy President, Mark Bridgeman said:
“The findings of the investigation confirm there is a real urban/rural digital divide which thanks to the arrival of 5G and full-fibre broadband is likely to get worse.

phone mast

“We’re delighted that our proposals for improving mobile coverage have been backed by the Committee. If mobile operators are to put in place a shared rural network, it must be more than aspirational and should have legally binding coverage targets. If this is not possible, then rural roaming needs to be imposed.

“For too long, those living and working in the countryside have been dealt a poor hand when it comes to connectivity, waiting for improvements which never seem to arrive. We need urgent action now.”

The Efra Committee, Chaired by Neil Parish MP, echoed calls from the CLA's #4GForAll campaign in their report:
"Rural communities have been told for too long to just wait and see with the unfulfilled promise that mobile coverage will be improved. On the eve of the roll out of 5G, rural communities will only feel more marginalised if they continue to be denied access to 4G, or even 3G. Relying on competition between the Mobile Network Operators to tackle not spots and partial not spots in coverage has not worked.

"The Committee therefore supports a rural roaming solution to tackling poor mobile coverage in rural areas if the industry cannot find a comparable or better solution quickly. Ofcom should urgently conduct a specific review on the costs and benefits of roaming. 

"Should a voluntary agreement between Government and mobile phone companies not be reached by the end of 2019, the Government should instruct Ofcom to impose a rural roaming solution to tackle partial 'not-spots'."


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