Westminster eForum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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Taking forward the Shared Rural Network - funding and practicalities, collaboration and coordination, and priorities for policy and regulation

Morning, Thursday, 1st October 2020

Online Conference

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will discuss the way forward for implementing and rolling out the Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme - aiming to achieve 95% 4G coverage by land area in the UK by 2025 - as well as its potential impact on rural businesses, services and communities.

The background to the discussion:

It takes place with:

  • use of mobile networks during the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the importance of connectivity for health and social care, social contact, learning and work
  • the four UK mobile network operators (MNOs) committing £532m towards developing the SRN with measures including upgrading existing infrastructure and construction of new phone masts
  • the Government committing a further £500m to tackle total not-spots
  • government setting out its expectation that ‘organisations across the industry would have the opportunity to get involved in the delivery of the programme’
  • legally-binding coverage obligations agreed by the four MNOs for each UK nation after four and six years from the start of the SRN programme
  • Ofcom’s publication of the methodology that it will use to assess the compliance of the operators with these coverage commitments

Areas for discussion:

  • What has been learned from the use of mobile technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the degree to which demand and usage pattern changes are likely to remain embedded going forward
  • Developing collaboration and commercial partnerships between the MNOs, including terms for access to existing infrastructure
  • How funding should be prioritised and geographically directed, and the relationship between commercial and public-sector funding for the SRN
  • Tackling practical barriers to rolling out the infrastructure for the SRN on the timescales set out by the Government, including:
  • How contracts for infrastructure construction and placement will be tendered for and awarded, and the breadth and openness of competition in delivering the network
  • Coverage obligations and other rollout commitments, and any further regulatory interventions that might be needed to drive the rollout of mobile coverage in rural areas across the UK
  • Complementarity between the SRN and other active programmes aimed at increasing the quality and breadth of mobile coverage in rural areas - such as the Scottish 4G Infill Programme
  • Maximising the potential impact of the SRN on the UK’s rural economies and on potential improvements to rural public services, including the future role for local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and other local stakeholder groups in delivering the SRN and its benefits

The agenda:

  • Policy priorities for achieving wider mobile coverage and rolling out high-speed digital infrastructure in rural areas - with Anna Cartwright, Head of Mobile and Spectrum Policy, DCMS
  • Rural coverage in Scotland - experience and progress so far on the Scottish 4G Infill Programme - with Warren Adkins, Associate Director, Digital Infrastructure Team, Scottish Futures Trust
  • Assessing the wider impact of increased connectivity in rural areas - developing the rural economy and supporting communities and services
  • Next steps for partnerships and collaboration within the industry and more widely - with a senior speaker confirmed from BT
  • Key priorities for the Shared Rural Network - with Ben Roome, Chief Executive Officer, DMSL
  • Implementing the SRN programme - infrastructure rollout, tackling partial and total ‘not-spots’, and the role for the UK’s wider telecoms industry in building the network
  • Regulatory priorities for the Shared Rural Network - implementing and enforcing the new coverage obligation

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This conference looks to be no different. Places have been reserved from the House of Commons and by officials from DCMS; the Home Office; and the Department for the Economy, NI.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Ben Roome

Chief Executive Officer, DMSL

Keynote Speakers

Anna Cartwright

Head of Mobile and Spectrum Policy, DCMS

Ben Roome

Chief Executive Officer, DMSL

Warren Adkins

Associate Director, Digital Infrastructure Team, Scottish Futures Trust

Senior speaker confirmed from BT


Flick Drummond MP

Officer, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Broadband and Digital Communication

Selaine Saxby MP

Officer, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Broadband and Digital Communication and Vice Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Services


Paul Morris

Head of Government Affairs, Vodafone UK

Simon Miller

Head of Government Affairs, Three

Senior speaker confirmed from Mobile UK

Paul James

Head of Public Affairs, O2

Alfonso Alvarez

Managing Director, Cellnex UK

Ceren Clulow

Digital Connectivity Manager, Nottinghamshire County Council

Mark Stansfeld

Advisor, Three Mobile; Chairman, Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership and Chairman, Worcestershire 5G

Alex Blowers

Head of Regulatory Affairs, CityFibre

David Webb

Chair, Rural Policy Portfolio, Federation of Small Businesses