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UPD £150m Contract to Boost UK Mobile Broadband Coverage Won by Arqiva

Monday, May 13th, 2013 (6:50 pm) - Score 818
wireless broadband rural uk mast

A contract for the £150 million Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP), which was established as part of the 4G auction process to help build new mobile masts for those who live in areas of poor or non-existent mobile coverage, has been won by Arqiva.

Arqiva already provides much of the infrastructure behind TV, radio, satellite and wireless communications in the United Kingdom and as a result nobody will be surprised to see them picked. The deal means that “up to60,000 premises and sections of road will benefit from the new infrastructure.

The government hopes that its MIP scheme will play a vital role in wider efforts to make Mobile Broadband (3G or 4G) services available to “at least” 98% of UK people by the end of 2015, which according to Ed Vaizey MP is now running “two years ahead” of its original schedule (i.e. it use to be “by the end of 2017“).

Nicolas Ott, Arqiva’s MD of Government, Mobile and Enterprise, said:

We’re excited to be working with the Government and Mobile Operators on this important initiative. By investing in mobile infrastructure, the Government can help bridge the social and technological divides created in areas where commercial service is not economical, and we’re proud to be part of this process. MIP perfectly fits within our strategy of creating a range of platforms – cellular, WiFi and small cells – that provide mobile connectivity to all and support a thriving digital economy in the UK.”

Under the contract Arqiva will be responsible for a “full scale mobile network roll out“, which includes network planning, site acquisition, deployment of site infrastructure and installation of the relevant equipment.

Harry Cotterell, CLA President, added:

Rural areas have been starved of a decent and usable mobile phone signal for too long. We welcome the Government’s recognition of the urgent need to significantly improve mobile coverage but it is vital to properly and effectively target those rural areas where mobile signals are non-existent.

It is also crucial that where new masts are put in place, landowners receive a commercial rent through wayleave payments. The CLA will hold the Government to account to make sure progress on the MIP is monitored closely and ensure Arqiva meets its deadline and delivers within the £150 million budget.”

The recent Budget 2013 announcement confirmed that the first sites would be operational in 2013 and today’s news states that we can expect further details about the initial roll-out locations to be revealed during this summer.

UPDATE 14th May 2013:

Added a comment from the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) above.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Excellent, its essential to have good mobile coverage as well as fibre infrastructure to rural homes and businesses, as many people are mobile these days and need access to their data. I wonder if arqiva wants some fibre feeds to their rural masts in the North West?

  2. Avatar Ignitionnet

    I do love that the CLA president’s priority here appears to be that landowners get paid commercial rents. We really have become a nation of rentiers at every level.

  3. Avatar dragoneast

    I am confused: landowners want their profit, so do the fibre-link suppliers – nothing wrong with that, of course – but at the taxpayer’s cost? If it’s a commercial roll-out, then let it be a commercial roll-out.

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