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Speed Up Britain hosts Ministerial Roundtable

Speed Up Britain were delighted to host a virtual roundtable with the Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman MP, on Wednesday 29th July.

The roundtable provided a platform for a very positive and constructive discussion on the Government’s plans for improving mobile connectivity and plans for the Electronic Communications Code.

The founder members of the campaign were joined by business groups and organisations representing industry and landowner communities including the Norther Powerhouse Partnership, CBI, FSB, Tech UK, Wireless Infrastructure Group, Rural Services Network, British Property Federation and DMSL.

The Minister highlighted the importance now, more than ever, of rolling out digital networks as fast as possible. Chair of Speed Up Britain, Ed Vaizey, emphasised that to do this loopholes in the Electronic Communications Code need to be closed; this does not require a full scale reopening and revisiting of all aspects of the Code; rather targeted changes can be made to make it work effectively. The Minister noted that the government intends to bring forward a consultation on changes to the Code that may be needed.

An informative discussion followed with some key points from attendees including:

  • Support for Code changes which enable the upgrading and sharing of sites without new agreements, to help roll out the Single Rural Network faster;
  • Recognition that the newer city regional authorities have put emphasis on driving forward improvements to digital infrastructure and are looking to work productively with operators, but that there is a role for all public sector landowners to take a pioneering approach to increasing mobile connectivity when engaging in site negotiations;
  • Acknowledgement of the appetite and demand from rural communities particularly for improvements in mobile connectivity;
  • Agreement that whilst there has been improvements in dialogue between operators and landowners, there is a need for ongoing constructive engagement.

Speaking after the event the Minister said:

“Covid-19 has highlighted the critical importance of our digital networks. Digital connectivity has played a pivotal role in enabling society to function during this period. The installation, maintenance and upgrading of digital infrastructure will be a key factor in driving our economic recovery.

“Speed Up Britain has an important contribution in ensuring the Electronic Communications Code works to facilitate an effective system underpinning site agreements, to make sure we can all use the digital networks we need, and which are in demand from communities across the country.”