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Survey to capture 4G 'not-spots' across Norfolk could be commissioned

4G and phone signal coverage is getting better in some areas, but other parts of the region have been left behind. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

4G and phone signal coverage is getting better in some areas, but other parts of the region have been left behind. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

Proposals to create a definitive map of Norfolk's mobile coverage which would be used to press for improvements in the county's 'not-spots' will be discussed next week.

Ofcom map showing 4G coverage in Norfolk outdoors. Image: OfcomOfcom map showing 4G coverage in Norfolk outdoors. Image: Ofcom

It comes after an EDP investigation found large swathes of the county lack 4G coverage.

Our survey of 1,300 readers in October last year showed poor coverage had caused 86pc of people problems, with 40pc rating their coverage as one out of 10.

Since then more phone masts have been built in Norfolk and Suffolk and 4G signal, which allows users to use the internet on their phones, is improving.

At a meeting next Wednesday, Norfolk County Council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee will be asked to approve plans to commission a countywide survey of mobile voice and data coverage across all major networks providing services in Norfolk.

As a minimum, the survey would be expected to capture coverage along all the county’s A and B roads, its major rail routes and stations, key tourist areas and in the urban centres of Norwich, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth.

Once the results are known, Norfolk County Council intends to use them to strengthen the business case for further investment to boost mobile coverage. It would also enable the council to help telecoms providers find suitable locations for mobile infrastructure, which could include offering access, for a fee, to council or other public sector-owned assets such as offices, fire towers or even wind turbines.

Tom Garrod, Chairman of the Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee, said: “I think this is a fantastic proposal and exactly the kind of thing I want this committee and the council to be leading the way on.

“We’ve seen a lot of progress with broadband access in the county as a result of our Better Broadband for Norfolk programme but progress on mobile coverage has sadly lagged behind. This survey will be a crucial start in improving mobile phone coverage across the county and networks.

“Our survey would arm us with the evidence we need to not only lobby for improvements but also to suggest practical solutions to telecoms companies and bring about real change. I’m excited about the potential of this idea, if the committee agrees with me we’ll move quickly and look to publish the results in the new year.”

The Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee is due to meet at 10am on Wednesday, 8 November at County Hall. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

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