LGA responds to OFCOM Connected Nations report

Responding to Ofcom's Connected Nations report, Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Chairman of the LGA's People and Places Board, said:

"Good digital connectivity, whether it's broadband to your home, or mobile coverage wherever you are, is a vital element of everyday life for residents.

"It is good news that this report finds a closing of the digital divide and an increase in superfast broadband coverage following councils' hard work and investment of £740 million to extend coverage as part of the Superfast Broadband Programme. However, it serves to further underline what we already know: there is still much work to do to connect more than one million premises without decent broadband speeds and ensure mobile data coverage is sufficiently robust and widespread to match people's needs and expectations.

"We await further details regarding the £1.1 billion Digital Infrastructure Fund announced as part of the Autumn Statement and believe councils have a key role to play in ensuring this investment helps address the needs of those communities and business that remain at risk of digital exclusion.

"This report highlights that up to 1.4 million households stand to benefit from the Government's proposed Universal Service Obligation (USO). Given the increasingly critical part good digital connectivity plays in everyday life we urge Government to implement a USO that provides a minimum download speed, rising in line with national averages, and guarantees consistent performance of other elements which make for a good quality internet connection, such as upload speed.

"We are glad Ofcom has echoed our calls for the USO to include a social tariff at an affordable price for those most in need. We press Government to include the requirement for a social tariff in the secondary legislation outlining how the USO will be designed.

"Finally, the LGA backs Ofcom's ambition to explore with mobile providers how we can provide comprehensive mobile coverage to residents wherever they live. We are ready and willing to work with mobile operators, in partnership with communities, to help find the best locations for new mobile infrastructure masts."

Notes to editors

  1. Connected Nations
  2. Letter from Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive, to mobile network operators, suggesting they consider covering the entire country: 
  3. LGA Digital Economy Bill briefings
  4. LGA USO briefing

16 December 2016

Neil Durham
Senior Media Relations Officer
Local Government Association
Phone: 020 7664 3359
Email: neil.durham@local.gov.uk