Carmichael presses ministers for update on Shared Rural Network progress

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has pressed government ministers on progress in implementing the Shared Rural Network, a plan to greatly increase mobile coverage in rural and island parts of the UK and to eliminate ‘not-spots’. The £1bn plan was announced in 2019 with work beginning in autumn of last year, but after encouraging updates during the summer there has been limited news on progress recently.

Speaking during the debate, Mr Carmichael said:

“In July of this year, we had encouraging news about the Shared Rural Network and were pleased to see progress, but it has all been very quiet since then. The Shared Rural Network and the availability of mobile phone connectivity are major frustrations of constituents in the communities that I represent, and it is something on which we would like to see faster progress. We were pleased to see the progress.

“However, when things are going well, Governments are always very quick to have announcements, press conferences and photo opportunities; when things go quiet, being the nasty, cynical, suspicious person I am, I am inclined to wonder whether there might be problems somewhere. An update from the Minister on the Shared Rural Network would be most welcome.”

Speaking after the debate, Mr Carmichael said:

“It was disappointing that the minister, when given the opportunity, only had general platitudes to give about the progress of the Shared Rural Network. Based on past experience I am afraid that the lack of specifics may be a signed of slackened efforts in this area – but we cannot simply let improving mobile connectivity slide. The government had better be on notice – we will not stop raising the pace of network improvement until it is done.”

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