Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Improving Mobile Coverage For Cambridgeshire

Plans to improve mobile coverage across Cambridgeshire are being backed by the County Council to help businesses grow, people stay in touch and reduce rural isolation.

Mobile coverage is poor or non-existent in some parts of Cambridgeshire, particularly in rural areas and along some major road and rail routes.

Cambridgeshire County Council wants to see the mobile voice and data infrastructure improved. This will complement the roll-out of better broadband being delivered through the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme.

Improving mobile coverage will help to meet the programme's aims to strengthen the local economy. It will help bolster business growth, support people who are vulnerable or isolated and make it easier to access public services.

The Connecting Cambridgeshire programme team is working with Government and will be engaging with the telecommunications industry to develop opportunities to improve mobile coverage for Cambridgeshire.

Councillor Nick Clarke, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, which oversees the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, said: "We recognise that good mobile communications are essential to the growth of the economy in a digital world where there are more mobile phones than there are people. Using a mobile phone is part of everyday life for the majority of people and can be a life saver in certain circumstances.

"It is appalling that in the 21st Century there are still 'not spots' with no coverage at all in some of our rural areas and commuters are unable to get a consistent signal on the London to Cambridge line. The Connecting Cambridgeshire project will not only be delivering better broadband but also working with the Government to improve mobile coverage to help keep our businesses and rural communities connected."

Local Parish Councillor Andy Pellew welcomed the news; "People no longer use mobile phones just to  make calls and with more and more people relying on them for business communication it's vital for continued economic development that coverage, largely of 3G and 4G services, is improved."

"However it will be interesting to see how this money is going to be spent, the network operations have already consolidated their mobile operations (see here) so that there are really only two companies in the UK; Mobile Broadband Network Limited (EE and 3), and Cornerstone (Vodafone and O2) building base stations and expanding mobile networks. While I'm keen for Cllr Clarke's 'Not spots' to be eliminated we will have to be careful that the new money is not being used to replace existing funding or to help companies meet their contractual obligations following their 4G license bids."

"I welcome the investigation and, subject to some suitable guarantees around the spending of public money, I think this could really benefit the rural parts of Cambridgeshire including Bar Hill".