The Countryside Alliance - the leading voice of rural Britain - welcomes today's announcement and the intent for 99 per cent mobile phone coverage, but warns that the £150 million will be wasted unless the Government opens up the 4G spectrum for auction as soon as possible, and thus provides rural and hard-to-reach communities with a competitive mobile phone market.
The Alliance also warns that, although more mobile phone masts are necessary for the extension of coverage, placement must be done in consultation with local residents or risk an unnecessary backlash.
Sarah Lee, Head of Policy for the Countryside Alliance, said:
"Today's announcement by George Osborne will be welcomed by rural areas that currently suffer from poor or unreliable mobile phone coverage.
"However, for this money to be truly beneficial the Government needs to ensure the forthcoming spectrum auction provides a competitive market that will not only deliver mobile coverage for all, but help deliver the Government's commitment for universal broadband.
"In addition, it is imperative that installing the infrastructure that will provide this boost to rural mobile phone coverage is done in full consultation with local residents. As the planning debate has shown, countryside communities will always support growth provided they are fully involved in the process."
Notes to Editors
1. The Countryside Alliance recently partnered with 3 Mobile to give away free internet dongles to 14 rural areas without reliable fixed-line broadband.
For more information or to arrange interviews please call the Countryside Alliance press office on 0207 840 9220 or 07500 834 163