Phone ‘not-spots’ revealed as chamber makes plea for better coverage
- Credit: Archant
Feeble mobile phone coverage is holding our region's economy back and putting the brakes on investment, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce claims.
And a new map produced using data from thousands of phone users across the region has revealed the extent of the problem, highlighting how little 3G and 4G coverage most parts of East Anglia receive.
Nova Fairbank, public affairs manager for Norfolk Chamber, said it was especially frustrating that business visitors using international roaming often had better access to the internet on their phones than their Norfolk counterparts.
She said: 'We have a diverse and innovative business community in Norfolk, however if we want to be seen as a place to do business and be able to compete at a national and international level, we need more investment in Norfolk's mobile signal infrastructure and a better service from the mobile providers, including roaming signals.'
Coverage monitoring firm OpenSignal produced the map for consumer group Which?
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Its data shows EE offered the fastest average 4G download speeds of the four networks: EE, O2, Vodafone and Three. While EE customers enjoyed average 4G download speeds of 28Mbps, those on O2 had to put up with an average speed of just 16.2Mbps.
EE also provided the best 4G coverage, with customers able to access it 64.1pc of the time, compared to just 43.7pc of the time for Three customers.
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Ben Baldwin, from Sheringham, said his town was one of the county's most notorious 'not-spots' for 4G coverage, but he had noticed a difference since switching providers.
Mr Baldwin said: 'Sheringham is absolutely dreadful for it. I have a Tesco mobile on the O2 network - there's absolutely no 4G anywhere at all in the town. But I recently bought myself a pay-as-you-go EE phone and it gets 4G in most parts of the town.'
But even the most central parts of the county are not without their trouble spots.
Daniela Heisler, from Cringleford, said she had 'very poor' coverage from O2 and other networks, specially indoors. And Hilary Gostling, from Reepham, said she could only get a signal at home on the Vodafone network if she leaned out a bedroom window.
To see the map in full, visit which.coverage.opensignal.com
A problem for tourist operators
A recent Tourism and Leisure Business Survey conducted by accountancy firm Larking Gowen found that 34pc of respondents felt broadband speed was poor while 56pc felt that mobile phone signal at their location was equally poor. Chris Scargill, Larking Gowen Tourism Partner, said businesses were finding this a challenge. He said that while there was a small trend where holiday-makers wanted to 'unplug' themselves, it was still important for most people to be in contact. 'A lot of people want to be able to contact the office on a lot of short breaks. It is critical that the quality of that communication is there.'
Lucy Downing of Norfolk Country Cottages said visitors often wanted to share their holiday experiences on social media and it was an issue that needed to be improved. 'That helps to promote the area as well, they want to put it on (social media). It's what you'd expect coming from the city, you're always connected. We definitely need to push that further.'
Tom Blowfeld of Bewilderwood family adventure park said broadband speed and mobile signal was a 'really big problem' in the county. 'People want their tablets to work… It's a bit annoying if they don't.'
The trio made the comments on Mustard TV show This Week hosted by Clare Precey.
(by Andrew Stone)
There's nothing quite like capturing the perfect sunset selfie on the beach, a familiar sight on the shores of Sunny Hunny.
But posting it online is close to impossible in the coastal town due to poor mobile phone reception across most networks.
There is limited reception from Hunstanton Pier to even as far as the Searles Leisure Resort.
Richard Briscoe, a chef at Chives Brasserie on High Street, said Hunstanton is one of the worst places to receive a mobile phone signal.
He said: 'I don't get signal at all, I can't even make a phone call. I used to have to use a landline or walk around to find a signal.
'It's really bad, it's like this all over to be fair there's no great place where you can find signal.'
Mr Briscoe said there is an urgent need to improve signalling problems in the area, adding: 'If you have a mobile phone you kind of need a signal.'
(by Taz Ali)
Snapshot: Caister and Hemsby
Despite Caister appearing on the map as one of the areas with the weakest signals, Tony Baker says he seldom experiences issues.
Mr Baker, who lives in the village, said: 'It doesn't feel to me like there are any problems with mobile phone signal - I more than often have four bars of signal on my phone.
'However, I do find around areas like Fritton it is hopeless. I don't really know of anybody who has experienced problems in Caister though.'
Similarly, areas of Hemsby are marked on the map as being particularly weak, however, Sue Weaver, 55, said her signal was fine.
She said: 'I'm with Vodafone and I haven't experienced any problems with a weak signal.'
(by David Hannant)
Niki Senior runs businesses from her Garvestone home and although Vodafone is reportedly the best network for the village the signal is virtually non-existent.
'We get one bar if we are lucky,' she said. 'When I go away from home I get about six voicemails a day which have backed up. Not good for my business.' She recently bought a mobile on a Tesco contract for her husband but there was no signal at all until they reached Hardingham or Yaxham. 'We returned it but had a nightmare cancelling the contract,' she said.
In Yaxham Ian Martin said the signal was patchy on 3G and changes throughout the parish. 'We're on 02 here and that is not too bad, but comes and goes as you go round the village. A recent change is the turning on of the Vodafone transmitter at Toftwood, and those on Vodafone can at various points get 4G and superfast broadband if in the right place.'
(by Kathryn Cross)
Abbi Brown, who lives in Mutford, near Beccles, says she is unable to use her mobile phone for calling or texting at home, and relies on her wi-fi to contact friends and family through Facebook Messenger.
She said: 'It's a real pain and people tell me they have tried calling me and I never pick up, but my phone doesn't even ring my end. And if I am out and about in the village no one can get hold of me.
'I tried sending my mother-in-law a birthday text on Saturday and she finally got it Tuesday when I went out of the village.'
And Karen Calver, who lives in Blundeston, near Lowestoft, said: 'We have terrible signal, we have to have a booster in the house and it's still rubbish. We regularly send messages to people who receive them days later or do not deliver at all and bounce back.'
(by Amy Smith)