Rural communities across the United Kingdom face ruin unless the 4G spectrum process is speeded up, an MP has claimed.
Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Borders, said delays to the 4G auction were wiping out 'billions of pounds' of tax revenue from small communities. The 4G auction has experienced several delays and is expected to be held in the second half of 2012.
Stewart said mobile broadband would help rural communities, as it is not economically viable for fixed-line operators to roll out cables to isolated villages. He said: 'This is Ofcom's last chance in a generation to give rural communities the help they need in getting access to broadband. We must make sure rural communities are not let down when it comes to accessing 4G or LTE services.
'This auction must not be about Ofcom getting a quick and easy lump sum off the operators bidding for the rights to use this spectrum. It must be about Ofcom securing the future of rural communities, securing these communities' access to mobile broadband coverage, and ensuring that the people living, working and learning in these areas can access all the benefits of broadband that those living in urban areas can. If Ofcom fails to do this, more and more rural communities will simply die out and disappear.'
Stewart was speaking at Three's launch of free mobile broadband for people in the Cumbrian community of Kaber today (16 December). They have been given access to either a broadband dongle or MiFi unit, which creates a personal hotspot. Three CEO Dave Dyson said: 'Mobile can and does give thosands of rural communities essential access to a broadband service. For many without a fixed-line service, it will continue to be the only way they can affordably get online and reap the benefits that access brings.
'But next year's spectrum auction is going to be vital in bringing that option to even more of those currently without a decent mobile signal.'