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Wireless broadband

Chancellor George Osborne has announced plans to invest £150 million in the UK's mobile broadband network to extend coverage to 99 per cent of the population.

In a statement the Treasury said that the investment will help improve coverage for the "five to ten per cent of consumers and businesses that live and work in areas of the UK where existing mobile coverage is poor or non-existent".

It is thought that work to increase the coverage, which will involve procuring additional mobile phone mast sites, will begin next year.

The move to improve mobile broadband coverage has been welcomed by a number of commentators, especially groups campaigning for rural broadband improvements.

"By addressing the rural broadband infrastructure with extra funding and tackling the problems rural areas have in receiving a decent mobile phone signal, the government is taking the countryside seriously and recognising that the rural economy has a lot to offer," said William Worsley, President of the Country Land and Business Association.

Bob Warner, Chair of the Communications Consumer Panel, also welcomed the move, saying: "This injection of cash will significantly improve the lives of millions of people and help the growth of thousands of small businesses.

"Inadequate mobile coverage is a major concern for the Panel, and we have campaigned for intervention to improve coverage for rural communities and small businesses. A pure market-oriented approach to delivering coverage for 2G voice services has now reached its economic limit."

Currently, mobile broadband coverage in the UK stands at around 95 per cent.

Recently-released data from IDATE suggested that there will be more mobile broadband connections than fixed ones within four years, with an estimated 2.6 billion located across the globe by 2015.

The popularity of devices such as smartphone and tablet computers is thought to be behind the surge in popularity.  

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