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The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) has set out its key policy positions on how to deliver digital connectivity across the country post Brexit.
Representing Place Directors from local authorities, ADEPT is calling for cross-sector support to work together to deliver access to fast and reliable broadband and mobile coverage across the country to unlock the economic benefits of digital technology.
The association wants to see the importance of digital connectivity enshrined in local industrial strategies and local plans so that it is prioritised as other utilities. It also wants to see more incentives, as well as requirements for mobile network operators (MNOs) to provide better, affordable services for rural areas. There must be more certainty and powers to ensure that coverage and compliance are assured by Ofcom.
One of the key elements that will improve connectivity for rural areas is to enable the use of rural roaming across all mobile networks and make effective use of the Emergency Services Network and the 700Mhz band is released, which is likely to be in 2020.
Darryl Eyers, new ADEPT President, said: “Investment in digital infrastructure must be a central component of our post Brexit industrial strategies, locally as well as nationally. Fast and reliable digital connectivity is a utility, underpinning business, our aspirations for clean growth and a low carbon economy, as well as our daily lives. It is also intrinsic to addressing climate change, enabling a reduction in the reliance on our transport network to do business, offering both a reduction in congestion and improvements in our air quality.”
Martin Tett, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board, said: “All residents have a right to expect fast and reliable digital connectivity to help them cut household bills, shop online for cheaper goods, keep in touch with distant relatives, and access their bank accounts.” We commend ADEPT for bringing together this position statement to make clear its intention to collaborate with telecommunication providers and government to catalyse the extension of world class digital connectivity to all areas.”