MP Rory Stewart has hailed Ofcom's proposal to increase the coverage obligations on mobile operators that win spectrum in the forthcoming 4G auctions from 95 to 98 per cent of the country as "fantastic news".
The Tory MP for Penrith and the Borders, one of the most sparsely populated constituencies in the country, has been a vocal campaigner on the issue for some time, warning rural communities would die out unless the obligation was increased.
As such, he said the decision by Ofcom was great news for those in remote regions and would provide an enormous benefit to the UK's economic future.
"We need growth in Britain and this investment will transform our businesses and economy. Almost nothing has a more dramatic effect on the growth of small businesses than giving them good broadband and mobile access," he said.
"It allows them to compete more quickly, more cheaply, and in some cases worldwide. High quality mobile signals will also allow sparsely populated rural areas to finally use the incredible new technological opportunities."
He added that the ability to connect to high-speed networks would also help drive the use of new forms of technology such as telemedicine and distance learning.
The decision by Ofcom was also welcomed by network infrastructure firm Arqiva. Director of mobile at the firm, Alastair Davidson, claimed it was a significant milestone in the UK's push towards the rollout of 4G services.
However, he said that the regulator should ensure it places the obligation on all operators, rather than allowing a situation where it provides funding to one operator and make it responsible for the rollout.
"We'd encourage Ofcom to make sure the 98 per cent coverage obligation is applied to all the operators who win 800MHz spectrum," it said.
"If Ofcom decides to place the coverage obligation on only one operator, many consumers in rural areas will receive a second-tier broadband service, and be denied the benefits of competition available to those who live elsewhere."
Although most have welcomed the changes put forward by Ofcom, mobile operator Everything Everywhere has voiced its disappointment with the changes, arguing the regulator has failed to address an "imbalance" in the sub-1GHz market.
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