Gov to spread mobile masts to remote corners of Blighty
We'll each pay £2.42 to hook up the shepherds
The UK's Chancellor has confirmed that the government will sink £150m into buying up cell sites with the intention of extending rural coverage to 99 per cent of the population.
Ofcom will advise the government on how it should go about spending our cash on sites for base stations to be utilised by multiple operators, with the intention of creating greater coverage for existing networks and encouraging operators to roll out next-generation services to the edges of the UK.
Details are still scant, with more to come from the Department of Fun (properly Culture, Media and Sport) at some future point, but the basic idea is to buy up sites during 2012 and make them commonly available by early 2013. Operators will be able to move in cheaply, to provide service to the six million or so people who currently aren't getting blanket coverage today, hopefully with 3G or 4G services, but at least 2G.
Other countries have subsidised rollouts before, particularly those with dispersed populations, but generally by paying one operator to build a network and mandating that customers of other networks be allowed to roam onto it. That's quick and simple, but only provides a single technology and reduces competitive pressure to increase coverage.
So the UK plan will probably involve hiring Arqiva or similar to build cell sites, and then rent them out cheaply to operators who can deploy whatever technology they see fit. If the UK's 4G auction manages to go ahead as planned that should be LTE, as it offers greater flexibility and (at 800MHz) greater range than 2G, but even if the auction gets delayed another year or two we should see 2G deployed or perhaps 3G in 2G frequencies.
So we'll be able to stay connected to Twitter from the mountains of the Highlands through the Lakes and down to the coastline of Cornwall, for only a hundred and fifty million quid - quite a bargain. ®
The tone in your article is that you feel this should not be happening. But the first thing that came into my head was, hey this can help save lives and make things easier for people.
If the stations stay owned and rented out then the money will continue to come back in, so it is not lost. Unlike giving money to BT to wire up already well connected places and once again not wiring everywhere up with what a lot of people now call an essential service.
To be honest you sound like someone that thinks technology only belongs in towns and cities.
Good news for emergency calls
Useful for emergencies. There are large parts of Scotland with no coverage. If an accident happens then at the moment the victims just have to hope that someone else comes by before it is too late.
For a number of people this development will save them from death or permanent injury.
Re: Couple of points or three:
I live in a very sparsely populated rural area, popular as a tourist destination, where coverage is extremely patchy. It's no problem for me at all, though coverage from where I live would be a nice-to-have. However, tourists in the area are the ones who miss universal coverage the most, and who expect there to be coverage. So basing ideas of adequacy on percentage of population misses the point. It's not us rural people clamouring for this service - it's you city slickers who feel their human rights have been breached if "no service" flashed up.