The Welsh Government should consider ensuring future public subsidies to landowners such as farmers are conditional on them allowing mobile phone masts on their land, according to a National Assembly Committee.
A new report from the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee calls on the Welsh Government to consider innovative ways to connect the last four percent of Wales without broadband access, and to consider reforming the planning regime to improve mobile phone coverage across the country.
Other recommendations from the report include:
- The Welsh Government should consider establishing a repayable grant or equity scheme to allow small operators to fill broadband gaps;
- The hardest to reach four percent of communities and individuals living without broadband connectivity should be engaged in the process so that solutions are tailored to their needs;
- The Welsh Government should reform the planning regime to allow the installation of telecoms masts that cover a wider geographical range; and
- OFCOM needs to use all its regulatory powers to meet its target of 100 percent mobile coverage and, as a minimum, this should be a condition of future auctions of the right to transmit.
Digital infrastructure fit for Wales’s future.
“Connectivity is no longer a “nice-to-have” in our daily lives; for many people and businesses we spoke to during our inquiry, it’s now considered an essential service - like electricity.
“Wales’s landscape and population spread poses challenges in a world where market forces determine broadband and mobile phone coverage.
“While the Welsh Government’s Superfast Cymru broadband scheme, delivered with BT - has connected high numbers of people, there remain pockets it has not be able to reach, and this is echoed with mobile phone coverage.
“Our recommendations will help Wales to develop a digital infrastructure which is as fast and as reliable as other parts of the UK, and is fit for the future.”
Read the full report:
Digital Infrastructure in Wales (PDF, 642 KB)