We are so fortunate in Maidstone and The Weald to have some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK right on our doorsteps. Unfortunately, at times, the perfection of our rural surroundings can be tempered by poor digital connectivity.
In the 21st century, access to fast, reliable mobile coverage and broadband is no longer a luxury, it is vital to our everyday lives. Be it: people working from home, running rural businesses or travelling to and from school; so many of us now rely on our connection to the internet and the outside world. Unfortunately, in many places including Frittenden, Benenden, Linton, Sisisnghurst, parts of Marden and The Farleighs our digital connections are simply not up to scratch.
Having campaigned on this for over a decade, I am delighted that boosting rural digital connectivity is such a high priority for our new Government. £650 million has already been earmarked to roll out full fibre broadband to every corner of the UK. Furthermore, action is also being taken to improve mobile coverage in rural parts of the country.
The Government is supporting mobile phone companies to create a shared rural network so that, no matter who your provider is, you can access 4G signal in remote communities. In order to help this work and improve rural mobile coverage; the Government are considering allowing mobile network providers to put more equipment on masts and make it easier to share them. There is, of course, a balance to be struck between boosting rural connectivity and protecting the sacrosanct nature of our precious countryside. I would therefore encourage anyone with an interest in this issue to respond to the Government’s consultation here: https://bit.ly/2PfvxRi.
Meanwhile, I am always on hand to help rural communities who are suffering from poor mobile coverage or slow broadband speeds to have their voices heard. If you think I can help then please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.