Moon to get 4G before parts of Wales as rural communities are swallowed by services ‘black hole’

4G or not 4G? The moon could have a better cellular network than rural Ceredigion (Picture by Vodafone)


The lifeless surface of the moon is likely to have 4G before many parts of rural Wales, according to an MP.

Ceredigion MP Ben Lake pointed to plans to install a 4G connection on the lunar surface, saying: “So the moon is going to have 4G wireless access before a large proportion of rural Wales.

“You couldn’t make it up.”

Yesterday he warned that rural communities risked being left in a “black hole” as services close.

Research published by Which? last year showed that Wales has the least access to 4G networks in the UK. It found that on average, 4G customers in Wales could get a 4G signal just 35.4% of the time.

This week Vodafone and Nokia announced plans to set up up the first 4G network on the Moon to provide communications support for an unmanned rover mission scheduled to launch in 2019.

This would allow the rover to send back high-definition digital video rather than the poor quality images provided by the analog radio link used by Apollo 17.


Yesterday Ben Lake he introduced a Bill in Parliament looking to ensure customers aren’t left without basic financial services by bank closures and poor broadband connections.

The measures in the Bill were aimed at:

  • Making it more difficult for banks to close – banks would have to consider transport time to their next nearest branch
  • Create ‘Local Banking Hubs’ – more than one bank could share premises and some administrative functions
  • Enhance financial services offered by Post Offices – many branches lack the basic infrastructure, funding, and training to carry out banking services.

“In rural areas, people are being forced to travel tens-of-miles to the nearest bank,” Ben Lake said.

“And with underinvestment in broadband infrastructure, online banking is not an option. These communities are being left in a banking black hole.”

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  1. Regarding 4G mobile service, where I live (Pontycymer) we have very poor mobile signals. Too poor for clear conversations. Sometimes text messages fail to send. Am I complaining? No. It’s this lack of modern cosmopolitan facilities that helps safeguard us from being overrun by incomers looking to snap up (relatively) cheap housing. From what I gather, Ben Lake’s patch, Ceredigion, is already lost to suffocating waves of immigration from across Offa’s Dyke. (Non-wireless Internet access is fine though, as it is all over Wales, or so I believe.)

    With regards to banks and financial services, Wales needs its own bank, run by, and for, the Welsh nation with branches in every community. Profits could stay in Wales and be paid out as Citizen’s Dividends. Appealing to the City of London banks for concessions is not only a waste of time but is embarrassing. These banks are impoverishing Wales on a daily basis – every time you use a debit card, credit card, or pay bills, these banks get richer while we as a nation gets poorer. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee – although maybe that is asking too much from our political “representatives”.

    • I live in the countryside and don’t want it to be like the city. I have terrible phone reception at home, and that’s just the way I like it. We have a landline and that works just fine. We have terrible small roads too, but I don’t want them widened or made better either.

      Politicians have been fixated on broadband and mobile phone signal for years now, as though providing them will fix all of our problems. System change is what we need, not fiddling at the edges.

      • Absolutely, let’s not ruin rural Wales with mobile phone signals. It is so nice to be able to escape somewhere. I have no mobile reception at home and want it to stay that way. Ben Lake take note!

        Simon GF: your comment on Ceredigion being lost to “suffocating waves of immigration” is both laughable and disgraceful.

        • I have one of those old-fashioned mobile phones that have this thing on the side called an “off-button”. I think the new ones still have them, is that right or does the latest iPhone not have it like they got rid of the headphone socket?

          I would be wary of relying on the Post Office there are fewer and fewer of these every year.

    • Matthew Davies

      The inverse of this, though, is that the lack of these kinds of services could actually drive some young people, who see them as a necessity, out of the area. This is already a major problem

      • Quite. People want to work in Ceredigion too. If you want to stop ‘suffocating waves of immigration’ (do I as a migrant from Gwynedd count?) give the people who work here a reason to stay. We’re a service-based economy and the lack of 4G and broadband is a real hindrance to the economic development of this part of Wales.

        • You’re from Gwynedd. You are therefore presumably not an English settler (although you may have been blown into Gwynedd from the other side of Offa’s Dyke. So your question cannot be answered).

    • Keep it up, Simon.

  2. Capitalist and Welshnash

    Set up a Welsh company and provide 4G yourself.

    It is no one’s responsibility but our own.

  3. Clive King

    I do oncall, so mobile reception it vital. If you want jobs that have global reach in the private sector and the benefits of such for the region (i.e. good jobs), you need mobile coverage. Suspect many NHS staff have a similar requirement. Young people move if they don’t have mobile coverage. Disappointed at some of the comments above regarding no mobile coverage being positive, but I still love you all 🙂

    Credit to Ben for raising this issue, again.

    Poor mobile coverage is caused by a jigsaw of reasons. One fragment of the jigsaw is controlled locally by Ceredigion Council who have been obstructive to
    the extent that some contractors working on the OpenReach fiber roll out will not work in Ceredigion (I was told that Ceredigion was the only welsh council who fine contractors for 10 minute overruns for night working). Obstructing the fiber roll out slows mobile delivery as the back haul network is often fiber. No back haul, no masts.
    Ceredigion Council is much much better than it was in 2014/15 on this issue, but still being obstructive.

    I was verbally ripped a new body cavity by the Leader of Ceredigion Council(who seems to have some history in this area according to Panorama) when I raised this issue.
    Councillors need to talk to the folks on the ground doing the work(take them tea), not listening to their own people or the PR people sent to tell them everything is OK.

  4. The priority for Wales should be universal fast fibre broadband, not 4G. Wireless 4G means even more masts and increased levels of radio-frequency pollution in Wales. In accordance with the Well-Being of Future Generations Act, we need to be much wiser about using wireless. The website has more information on this issue.

  5. With the deployment of Voice Over 4G networks being built by the four Mobile Network Operators coverage should be much more widespread in the coming years due to the lower frequency band it uses. It is vital for many reasons that small communities have coverage. There needs to be less resentment to cell sites being deployed. Local businesses are suffering, if one likes to not have their phone ring at home then just switch it off. I believe the Operators are doing the best they can but don’t need locals kicking up a fuss to a mast being built. I really don’t believe that there are any health risks associated with mobile cellular technology. I really hope Wales gets blanket cellular coverage one day.

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