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Public Telephones: Rural Areas

Question for Department for Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 49324, tabled on 19 October 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions her Department has had with BT on the removal of phoneboxes in rural areas; and what assessment has been made of the safety implications for people in areas with inadequate mobile phone coverage.

Answered on

24 October 2016

This is a matter for local authorities to take based on the value of retaining a phone box to the local community.

We recognise the importance of public call boxes as a means of calling the emergency services. Ofcom requires that there is a period of consultation before a public call box is removed and that one of the factors to be considered by the relevant public body is the potential importance of the call box to contact the emergency services.

Improving mobile connectivity across the UK, including in rural and hard to reach areas is a priority for the Government, and the December 2014 agreement with industry guarantees that each mobile network operator will provide voice and SMS text coverage to 90% of the UK's landmass by end-2017. Additionally, Telefonica has a licence obligation to deliver indoor 4G coverage to 98% of UK premises over the same period. Taken together these obligations will cut complete not spots by two thirds, resulting in 98% of the UK landmass with mobile coverage.

The Code of Practice for the Public Emergency Call Service requires that a caller from a mobile phone is able to roam onto another mobile network to make an emergency call if they have no signal from their own provider. The improvements in mobile connectivity arising from the December 2014 agreement will support this.

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