Initial findings of Norfolk’s first independent mobile coverage survey revealed

  • Tom Garrod: We’ve made it clear that this isn’t just a fact finding mission for us – we want to use this information to make a difference and improve mobile phone coverage in Norfolk

An extensive independent survey has found that attempts to make a mobile phone call in locations across Norfolk are likely to be unsuccessful nearly one in five times. 

Norfolk County Council commissioned the survey earlier this year to establish a true picture of mobile voice and data coverage in the county, with the goal of using the information to work with mobile providers to improve coverage and tackle ‘not spots’.

The survey was carried out between February and March this year and saw a specialist company, AWTG, appointed to gather information on the extent and quality of mobile phone coverage throughout the county. The survey was conducted along more than 3,400 miles of Norfolk’s roads but also at 30 railway stations and main railway lines, enterprise zones and popular tourist sites and destinations.

The key overall findings from the survey show:

  • Phone signals for making voice calls in Norfolk were identified as a particular issue, with only 82% of call attempts being successful. The call failures happened throughout the county across a broad range of locations and for all operators
  • Mobile data (3G and/or 4G) services were available in around 91% of locations surveyed
  • Attempts to browse the web and stream video using mobile data were successful around 85% of the time, but web browsing success rates were considerably lower across all operators on 3G
  • 4G data download speeds were good compared to the national average, particularly on EE, however 4G coverage issues were widespread which could impact on people’s experience of using the service, particularly indoors

Tom Garrod, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee, said: “People have been telling us for some time that phone signal around the county isn’t good enough. While the survey shows Norfolk is comparable to the rest of the UK in some respects, it’s clear there is still considerable room for improvement, particularly in enabling people to make phone calls wherever they are in the county.

“We’ve made it clear that this isn’t just a fact finding mission for us – we want to use this information to make a difference and improve mobile phone coverage in Norfolk. We’ve already made the four main mobile network providers the offer of installing their mobile infrastructure on more than 200 public sector buildings and structures in the county, which was warmly received, so we now need to match these structures with the ‘not spots’ identified in the survey.”

Also commenting on the results of the mobile phone coverage survey, Nova Fairbank, Public Affairs Manager for Norfolk Chamber said:

“Norfolk Chamber and our members welcome the work that the Digital Innovation & Efficiency Committee has done to map the actual mobile signal coverage in our region.

“We have a diverse and innovative business community in Norfolk, however if we want to be seen as a place to do business and be able to compete at a national and international level, we need to further improve Norfolk’s mobile signal infrastructure.  The survey has now made available actual data that can be used by businesses to make informed decisions about which provider will suit them best.  The data will also allow Norfolk Chamber and the County Council to lobby for greater investment for our region which will allow businesses the connectivity they need to do business on the move and generate more economic growth and jobs.”

Norfolk County Council will also start work on plotting the information collected onto an interactive map that will be available on the council’s website. This will allow people to see which of the four major providers - EE, Telefonica/O2, Three and Vodafone – have the best coverage by area and for their needs.

This map and more detailed information about the outcome of the survey is due to be available to coincide with the next meeting of the council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee, where the outcome of the survey and next steps will be discussed. The committee will meet on Friday, 11 May at County Hall in Norwich.

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