Brian Stokes, Managing Director of Business Telecoms and IT Provider ITCS, discusses the launch of 1PhoneX and mobile connectivity issues for rural welsh businesses.
As a business mobile provider, we’re pleased to see the release of the new iPhoneX. ITCS will be taking pre-orders from 27th Oct, with availability from 3rd Nov. Early uptake is high, with a number of business customers eager to get their hands on the new model X.
However, In the comfort of large cities like Cardiff and Swansea, while tech lovers are debating the benefits of the new iPhoneX and having discussions over who has the best superfast broadband speeds, it’s easy to forget that in some more rural parts of Wales it’s still hard to get sufficient signal to even send a text message.
I’m encouraged to learn this could be about to change.
Wales to implement a new ‘Mobile Action Plan’
While mobile connectivity is the responsibility of the UK Government, the Welsh Government earlier this month announced a new ‘Mobile Action Plan’ to support the mobile phone industry to improve connectivity in Wales.
There are particular challenges in boosting mobile connectivity in Wales. For example, data from Ofcom on television masts show that because of the country’s topography Wales needs 67 masts to reach one million people, while in England to reach the same amount of people 12 masts are required, in Northern Ireland it is 25 and Scotland 45.
The series of actions follows a Mobile Roundtable held by the Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, with mobile providers and the regulator earlier this year. The plan has been developed in consultation with those at the meeting and others including farming unions, landowners and business organisations.
It focuses on the key areas where the Welsh Government can use the levers at its disposal and its influence to help improve connectivity and capacity. The areas include:
• Planning – Research has been commissioned, due to be completed in the Autumn, to inform changes to permitted development rights for telecommunications equipment to improve mobile connectivity. Planning Policy Wales (PPW) will be refreshed to highlight the positive relationship between telecommunications and the economy. A revised PPW will be published for consultation by Spring 2018. The Welsh Govenment will also work with mobile network operators to revise and update the code of best practice and Technical Advice Note (TAN19)
• Non-domestic rates – Where evidence suggests that a reduction in non-domestic rates would encourage investment the Welsh Government will consider providing non-domestic rates relief on appropriate mobile mast sites.
• Innovation and emerging technologies – The Welsh Government and mobile network operators will work together to identify opportunities to develop and test innovative technologies in Wales, including 5G. There have already been success stories in Wales in this field, such as the Welsh Government working with EE in the Teifi Valley to extend coverage using small cell technology.
• Major events and special projects – Build on work already done at the Royal Welsh Show where collaborative working has resulted in a permanent mast at the showground. The Welsh Government will facilitate relationships between mobile network operators and major event organisers.
Improving mobile connectivity is vital for Wales Business growth
At ITCS, we partner with all the major telephone networks in order to provide the best solution for our customers, no matter where their location. However, as a business telecoms specialist in Wales, we cannot stress how important improving connectivity is for our more rural customers to improve business growth.
We are proud to have worked already with the Welsh Government on the superfast broadband rollout, which has seen tiny rural villages like Mawdlam in South Wales boasting fantastic data speeds of over 300mbps. We look forward to seeing the Mobile Action Plan implemented with similar success and to helping more rural Welsh businesses access all the benefits that modern mobile telecoms are already delivering to our City-based customers.