Mobile UK Calls on Government to Invest in Digital Champions as part of Levelling Up Agenda
Tuesday, 10 May 2022
MobileUK is calling on the UK Government to fund Digital Champions for local authorities to help coordinate and prioritise digital connectivity to better enable mobile infrastructure deployment and to assist with the Government’s ambitions to address digital exclusion as part of its Levelling Up agenda.
The call is made by Mobile UK, the representative body of the UK’s four mobile network operators, EE, Three, Virgin Media O2, and Vodafone, and comes as it publishes a new report highlighting the urgent need for Digital Champions to help coordinate mobile infrastructure rollout. The report calls on the UK Government to fund these roles, recognising the financial restraints of local authorities and the importance of digital connectivity whilst alleviating a lack of awareness and understanding about mobile infrastructure in order to improve resources and smooth the rollout of digital connectivity across the UK.
The report, published on 10 May, entitled Building Mobile Britain: The Case for Local Authority Digital Champions, showcases how local authorities who have already embedded a focused digital strategy are streets ahead of those who have yet to create a plan.
The report outlines five minimum key attributes needed for a successful Digital Champion role:
- Should be fully funded
- Held at a senior level
- Have political responsibility (be supported by cabinet-level elected representatives)
- Have demonstrable skills and experience
- Focused on tangible outcomes, not outputs.
Commenting on the campaign for Digital Champions, Director of Policy and Communications at Mobile UK, Gareth Elliott says:
“The Government has placed enormous emphasis in its Levelling Up agenda on improving digital connectivity, particularly to reduce digital poverty and exclusion, but to achieve these goals it is important to understand the need to assist local authorities in helping to prioritise and coordinate mobile infrastructure deployment.
“Our report highlights the role and dramatic impact a Government-funded Digital Champion can have on a council’s ability to play a positive role in the rollout of digital connectivity and to support the UK realise its goal of 5G rollout."
The report cites research highlighting that where councils have a dedicated and funded Digital Champion, they are four times more likely to deliver a smooth rollout of vital mobile telecommunications infrastructure. The report also explains that without adequate focus and funding the UK will continue to face barriers in meeting its 2030 target for the majority of households to be connected to 5G.
Read the full report here
- Essex County Council, Glasgow City Council and Wolverhampton City Council are featured as authorities which have taken a robust digital-first approach with demonstrable results on local connectivity and digital inclusion – key focus areas for the Governments Levelling Up whitepaper published earlier this year.
- Also highlighted is West Midlands 5G, the UK’s leading 5G testbed. With a digital strategy to accelerate the rollout of 5G networks and to prove the benefits of 5G WM5G reports that it is the UK’s most connected 5G region
- (Figures quoted in the report in relation to survey statistics are taken from Cluttons / You Gov Report Connecting the UK: Getting the nation gigabit ready report, January 2022).