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All major roads and main line trains will enjoy full and uninterrupted mobile phone signal

Last updated: 09:34pm 27 November 2019

By the same date, all major roads and main line trains will enjoy full and uninterrupted mobile phone signal, alongside guaranteed WiFi internet service on all such trains.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.78

Our verdict

The Conservative 2017 manifesto committed to provide a full and uninterrupted mobile phone signal on all major roads and main line trains by 2022.

In January 2019 the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) cancelled a £35 million trial scheme on the Trans-Pennine rail route intended as the first step in fulfilling this pledge. That was accompanied by a private letter to the Cabinet Office by Digital Minister Margot James stating that it would be”challenging” for the government to fulfil its manifesto pledge by 2022.

In February 2019, the DCMS launched a consultation on strategic priorities for telecommunications, reaffirming its commitment to provide an uninterrupted mobile signal on all major roads. The consultation document said:

“coverage levels are poorer in rural areas…and road and rail also face particular challenges.”

The July 2019 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme update indicates that the government has completed feasibility studies for the rollout of 5G on roads, and is considering business models for connectivity.

In October 2019 the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced support for a £530 million scheme to provide “high-quality 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by 2025.”

Both the DCMS report and the Network Rail Telecom Strategic Plan  record that Network Rail has upgraded the Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) to support 5G technology and allow for “future rail connectivity trials”. However, it remains unclear how this will contribute to fulfilment of the manifesto pledge.

The government has done some work towards honouring this commitment, but we can’t yet enjoy an uninterrupted mobile signal while travelling on Britain’s main routes. This policy remains ‘in progress’.

Enjoy uninterrupted access to the facts!


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