September 2 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Mobile phone black spots could become a thing of the past in Norfolk and Suffolk under new government plans to force operators to share their networks for users in the UK.
The scheme is being led by culture secretary Sajid Javid and has won support from prime minister David Cameron, who reportedly became frustrated after repeatedly losing a signal in Norfolk and is understood to be tired of losing calls in his Witney constituency.
Norfolk was one of three counties officials focused on when investigating the policy earlier this year, along with Shropshire and Dorset.
Government research has identified 12 parts of Norfolk where no mobile emergency signal exists.
Ministers are now in talks with mobile phone operators about the introduction of national roaming, which would allow a customer of any operator to use the network of another.
The move follows the launch of the EDP’s “Let’s Get Connected” campaign to improve mobile phone coverage in Norfolk last year.
It also comes after a European Union ruling that will bring in free roaming from 2016.
This would mean foreign visitors could benefit from free roaming in the UK while UK residents could not unless action is taken.
A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: “The government has made clear it wants to ensure the UK has world-class mobile phone coverage as part of our investment in infrastructure for the long-term economic plan.
“We are investing up to £150m to improve mobile coverage in areas where there is currently no coverage from any of the Mobile Network Operators.
“Of course we want to look at what more can be done in areas with poor coverage.”
The national Mobile Infrastructure Project, a £150m scheme to provide mobile phone mast infrastructure in ‘not spot’ clusters, had previously identified the A143 between Great Yarmouth and Haverhill as one of 10 trunk roads in the country that needed investment.
Although 12 new clusters of Norfolk ‘not spots’ were identified this year, Norfolk County Council has not revealed where they are because their locations were shared with the authority under a non-disclosure agreement.