Leaders in the East are calling for improvements to phone connectivity in the region, with Norfolk and Suffolk ranking in the bottom 13pc of UK counties for mobile internet.

People living in East Anglia have been dealing with poor or non-existent mobile phone connections for years. 

Ranked 83rd and 84th out of 96 counties respectively, Norfolk and Suffolk are still marred by “digital deserts”, areas where people are unable to pick up enough mobile signal to do even basic tasks like take calls or reply to emails. 

Eastern Daily Press: INDOOR 4G COVERAGE BY REGIONINDOOR 4G COVERAGE BY REGION (Image: Shared Rural Network/Newsquest)

Paul Simon, head of public affairs and communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said the impact of this is being felt keenly.

He said: “5G-impoverished businesses risk losing competitiveness, the ability to effectively fulfil current customer needs and successfully enter into new markets, especially those overseas.

“This is especially true of smaller Suffolk businesses based in rural areas where the existing digital infrastructure is already sub-optimal in many cases and is having a drag effect on their growth plans.”

READ MORE: Our demands for the future government

Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk, agreed.

Eastern Daily Press: Duncan Baker, MP for North NorfolkDuncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk (Image: Newsquest)

He said: “With so many people now working from home, what was adequate before 2020 now isn’t.

“There’s lots of worries about what will happen to people with poor phone signals once the analogue lines are scrapped. It needs to be improved.”

Earlier this month, funding was confirmed for a Suffolk Business Digital Champions Group, which will campaign to speed up the rollout of 5G infrastructure and improve the strategic relationships between mobile operators and planning authorities.

READ MORE: Leaders in the East call for urgent action to secure the region's water security

Mr Simon said the group would be an asset to the cause, but that more would need to be done to modernise the region. 

Eastern Daily Press: Paul Simon, head of public affairs and communications at Suffolk Chamber of CommercePaul Simon, head of public affairs and communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce (Image: Newsquest)

He added: “With only the most modest state intervention to date, the rollout of 5G infrastructure is driven by the ability of the mobile operators to make a sustainable return to infrastructure investment.

“But this demand-led approach has led to a very fragmented investment to date, not least as many local businesses are either not fully aware of the benefits of the technology or are holding back on their investment until the infrastructure is available.”

Supercharge East is brought to you in association with the Eastern Daily Press and Greater Anglia.