Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MS, Adam Price, has called for the Welsh Government to bridge the gap for rural communities who do not have sufficient mobile phone reception.

The recent Coronavirus restrictions have resulted in a dramatic increase for those working at home or away from the office, and subsequently, the need for quality mobile phone signal.

Adam Price said: “The last few months of the pandemic have demonstrated that there is clearly a gap in connectivity, both for mobile phone signal and internet speeds, across Wales. This gap, particularly for mobile phone signal, is not something that we can continue to entertain, as the importance of a good phone signal in an area increases.”

“My growing concern is that the strategy of the Welsh Government will mirror their work on superfast broadband – that improvement of coverage will be seen predominantly in urban areas, as they present the most connected people per £ spent. This approach inevitably creates a dearth of coverage in Wales’ more rural areas, and extends the digital divide within our country. A change of strategy is needed so that our rural communities are not left behind. When the Welsh Government talk about percentages of Wales receiving coverage, I am worried that it is always the same locations who are not in that percentage”

In a response to a written question submitted by Adam Price MS, the Welsh Government responded: “We are also working with the UK Government and the mobile industry in creating the £1bn Shared Rural Network (SRN), announced in March 2020. The initiative will see improved 4G coverage across the whole of the UK including Wales’s rural communities with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone investing in a shared network of new and existing phone masts. The network will be overseen by a jointly owned company called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited.

Across the UK all four mobile network operators will deliver 95 per cent combined coverage across the whole of the UK by the end of 2025. Coverage in Wales will improve to 95 per cent of the landmass from at least one operator and 80 per cent from all four operators. The SRN is planned to be completed in 2026. “