Boris Johnson's 'new' Tory manifesto plan for mobile phone blackspots was actually agreed in last parliament

Boris Johnson is under fire for hailing a “new” £1bn plan to end poor mobile phone signals after it emerged the deal was struck in the last parliament.

Countryside areas would no longer be dogged by so-called ‘not spots’ through a plan for companies to use each other’s masts to create a “shared rural network” by 2025, the prime minister said.

But, in a difficult BBC interview, it was pointed out that the agreement with the mobile phone firms had been reached last month.

The Conservatives had also “watered down” Mr Johnson’s pledge, when he won the Tory leadership election, to deliver full-fibre broadband to every home.

On the phones deal, Mishal Husain, the Radio 4 interviewer, told Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary: “All of this was announced back in October.”

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And, on the broadband policy, she added: “Why have you rowed back on the pledge of full-fibre broadband for all?”

Making the “new” announcement, Mr Johnson had said: “We are determined to make sure that no part of the country is left behind when it comes to mobile connections.

“In our first 100 days, we will fast track agreements for mast sharing between networks, alongside new investment in mobile infrastructure to tackle rural not-spots by 2025 and make poor mobile signal a thing of the past.”

But, on 25 October, the digital minister Nicky Morgan announced a “£1bn deal set to solve poor mobile coverage”.

“Brokering an agreement for mast sharing between networks alongside new investment in mobile infrastructure will mean people get good 4G signal no matter where they are or which provider they’re with,” she said.

In the interview, Mr Jenrick said the government was on the “cusp of a landmark deal” and was now saying it was “something that will get done in the first 100 days”.

The agreement would see £500m of taxpayers’ money spent on new masts in areas without coverage, with the companies putting in the other £500m to create the shared network.

On the broadband plan, it was pointed out that the Conservative manifesto now said “gigabit capable broadband” – which uses 5g to reach homes – would be introduced in some remote areas.

“Full-fibre is better than the gigabit broadband, so why have you rowed back on the pledge of full-fibre broadband for all?” Ms Husain asked.

But Mr Jenrick said it “wouldn’t make commercial sense” to deliver full-fibre to farms, for example, insisting Mr Johnson’s pledge of “highest speeds to all as quickly as possible” remained intact.

“We are going to look at different options in different parts of the country,” the minister said.


Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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