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Mobile phone firms urged to move quicker to improve Norfolk signal coverage

PUBLISHED: 14:25 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:40 13 March 2019

A mobile phone survey found patchy 4G coverage in Norfolk.  Byline: Sonya Duncan.

A mobile phone survey found patchy 4G coverage in Norfolk. Byline: Sonya Duncan.

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

Mobile phone companies have been urged to work more rapidly with council bosses to improve signal coverage across Norfolk.

Geoff Connell, head of information management and technology at Norfolk County Council. Picture: Bethany WhymarkGeoff Connell, head of information management and technology at Norfolk County Council. Picture: Bethany Whymark

A map measuring mobile strength across the county, compiled by Norfolk County Council last year revealed the overall availability of 4G was 84pc.

A year on, and officers at County Hall say, although there has been progress with mobile phone operators to make improvements, they want it to be faster.

And Geoff Connell, head of informational management and technology at the county council, told county councillors a new map would need to be drawn up to figure which areas remain as ‘not spots’.

Speaking to the council’s digital innovation and efficiency committee, Mr Connell said there had been “varying degrees” of engagement with the main four mobile phone operators.

He said: “We have seen more from some operators than others. Vodafone have been very helpful with sharing data with us and showing how they use that data to improve coverage.

“They have also shown us their plans for how they intend to invest further in the county in the coming six months, which has been very positive.”

He said O2 had demonstrated a more limited extent of active support and EE were talking to the council about a number of sites where their equipment could be installed.

Mr Connell said: “We are not trying to embarrass the operators. We are trying to help them do better. I would have liked to have seen faster progress, but have seen progress and that’s looking positive.”

He said the council was offering to host mobile phone equipment on council properties and an important next step would be a fresh mapping exercise to establish where coverage is still not good enough.

The committee also heard how the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, recently announced the council would get £8m to upgrade more than 370 council sites with full fibre broadband.

And the council is also bidding, along with Suffolk County Council, for money from the New Anglia Local Enterprise.

Partnership for a LoRaWAN network - which anyone can use for free to send small packages of information over the internet without mobile or WiFi networks.

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