East Antrim UUP MLA Roy Beggs has welcomed clarification from the Minister for Culture, Communication & Creative Industries regarding the implications of the Chancellor of the Exchequer budget statement regarding improving mobile coverage along the A2 Coast Road.
Roy Beggs MLA said ‘I welcome confirmation from Ed Vaizey MP Minister for Culture, Communication & Creative Industries that the Antrim Coast Road which forms part of the A2 will receive central government investment to upgrade mobile coverage to eliminate as many black spots as possible. Tourism becoming increasingly important and more and more visitors are utilizing smart phone technology and even locally developed apps to enhance the visitor’s experience. This investment in the A2 will enhance the tourism product and hopefully assist in encouraging more visitor nights and money spent in local restaurants and other local facilities. In addition to enhancing the local economy this new investment will also go some way to improve mobile communications for residents living on the East Antrim Coast.
In the reply to a letter Mr Beggs sent the Minister stated,
“As you are aware, the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP) will be investing £150 million to improve mobile coverage in parts of the UK where coverage is currently very poor or non-existent. Government is working with Mobile Network Operators and the wider industry to address the problem as effectively as possible, treating as many not-spots as possible, in a way that represents value for money.
As you rightly said, we committed in the budget to treat 60,000 premises and at least ten key roads by 2015, including the A2. The commitment is to provide coverage on all complete not-spots (i.e. areas where there is no coverage from any mobile network operator) on the identified road. We have begun the procurement process for MIP and, as part of this, we are beginning the process of identifying which area will be treated and when. The detailed work on the overall project timetable will be done by the MIP supplier once they are in place’