The UK approach to ensuring a world leading digital economy continues with the awarding of the next tender for a project to improve services in rural areas. Arqiva has been announced as the winner of a £150m tender to deliver improved mobile coverage to some 60,000 homes and a number of road sections.
"Arqiva’s appointment today is great news for rural communities throughout the UK, who stand to benefit enormously from this £150m project to improve mobile phone coverage. Good mobile connectivity is becomingly increasingly important and it is crucial that businesses and individuals are not left struggling with poor and intermittent coverage."
The project was announced in October 2011 and EU State Aid approval was granted in December 2012, so with a deadline of 2015, Arqiva will now need to show that mobile masts are fast to deploy, and also offer access to the masts on a set of terms that ensure that the mobile operators actually buy capacity.
In theory if the masts are deployed with 3G or better capability as well as improving voice coverage, they may also benefit people in terms of mobile data coverage. The subsidy that the project represents is pretty high, as if we assume that half the project funding is spent on covering the ten road sections, it still means that for each property remaining a subsidy of £1,250 is being given to provide mobile voice access. A map of the roads covered and likely not-spots that may see service is on the DCMS website.