Mobile Coverage - needed sooner rather than later

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

The recent problems created by the intermittent service Vodafone network service in some parts of Norfolk has brought this issue into close media focus. 

At the Chamber we have discussed, debated and lobbied the need for faster reliable broadband for a number of years. We will be delighted when work can be started with the delivery of the Better Broadband project to improve broadband across Norfolk. 

However what about mobile coverage/quality? There seems to me to be two key issues to be addressed. A poor service and no service from any provider known as not-spots.

In October 2011, the Government announced £150m in capital expenditure to improve mobile coverage and quality – known as the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP).This project is being run by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK). Due to Norfolk County Council’s ‘can do attitude’ the DCMS is seriously looking to make Norfolk a priority area within the UK to access part of this funding.

There is a way to go yet and a lot of work to do but there is a good chance that Norfolk’s not- spots relating to mobile coverate will start to be sorted shortly. Also as the not-spots along our train tracks come under the Department of Transport not the DCMS separate discussions are going on relating to the very poor mobile coverage service we get on the rail route to and from London.

Even when the not-spots are sorted it will not mean that good quality coverage will be created across Norfolk, additional investment from another funding pot will be needed. 

As a business community we can help make this happen starting with the following:

  • Lobbying the two LEPs covering this area to include better Mobile Coverage within their Growth Plans
  • Bringing this issue to the attention to our local MPs at every opportunity
  • Indentifying the economic issues which you face as a business due to poor mobile coverage across Norfolk
  • Supporting Norfolk Chamber with our lobbying campaign in Westminster

The Norfolk Chamber is working with the DCMS and Norfolk County Council and we will let you know what we need from you shortly.  I just wanted to alert you to the fact that activity is taking place to improve this important part of our infrastructure and Norfolk Chamber will be doing all we can to make it happen sooner rather than later.

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