Barbara Keeley MP


'Make the Air Fair' Campaign

I have been contacted by many constituents about mobile phone coverage and the related 'Make the Air Fair' campaign.

Access to high-quality mobile phone services is essential. As well as helping people to interact, it is also key for the economy and public services. I would like to see mobile connectivity improve, and I agree that the mobile market should be fair and competitive.

Customer choice and reliable coverage should be available everywhere in the UK. The National Infrastructure Commission has said that there are "too many digital deserts" across the country, and ranked Britain 54th in the world for 4G coverage.

During the last Parliament, the Conservative-led Government failed to improve mobile connectivity. While I welcome some measures within the Government's Digital Economy Bill, I am concerned that it will not do enough.

Ofcom is currently consulting on the release of the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands of the mobile spectrum. I am aware that several organisations, including 'Make the Air Fair', are calling for a cap of 30% spectrum ownership for any one network operator.

This band of spectrum is one of our most significant public assets. How it is auctioned and regulated are issues of importance to the economy.

I am concerned that the Conservative Government has failed to foster a competitive communications market. More competition means better service, more investment and lower prices. Ofcom should be supported to make sure that happens.
Licensing conditions for the spectrum auction must be ambitious and tough. These auctions should benefit everyone through better coverage and contribute to our digital economy, rather than simply raising revenue or providing benefit to the mobile network operators.

I will follow the outcome of Ofcom's consultation. I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will continue to press the Conservative Government to improve communications infrastructure and mobile network coverage in all areas of the UK.

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