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Gloucestershire councillors to investigate county's poor mobile coverage

Thursday, July 9th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Councillors in Gloucestershire have agreed to launch an investigation into ways of improving mobile phone coverage in the county.

Gloucestershire County Council’s Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee will investigate how mobile providers can improve coverage in the area after a motion was passed unanimously by county councillors at a meeting yesterday.

Last year the government announced a deal with the main UK operators to improve coverage across the country and reduce the number of mobile not-spots – areas where there is little or no mobile coverage.

Vodafone, O2, Three and EE agreed to invest £5bn in mobile infrastructure over the next three years in a move that is hoped to cut partial not-spots by half and total not-spots by two thirds.

In yesterday’s meeting, Gloucestershire county councillors passed a motion asking its Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee to investigate how mobile companies can provide better coverage.

They agreed with the motion, put forward by Councillor Paul Hodgkinson (Lib Dem – Bourton-on-the-Water & Northleach), that there is “poor or non-existent” mobile coverage in many parts of rural Gloucestershire and in some towns, and that good coverage could help avoid isolation, improve personal security and is good for the local economy.

“This council therefore requests the Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee to investigate how mobile phone companies can provide better coverage in Gloucestershire,” it said.

'Too many not-spots'

Cllr Hodgkinson, who is the new chair of the Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee, said: "This is about getting a fairer deal with it comes to getting what is now an essential part of 21st century life.

“There are too many not-spots and black holes when it comes to making and receiving calls in our county.

“This is not acceptable and most other countries have this licked.

"I'll be looking to the phone companies to come up with a clear and timetabled plan to provide a better service in consultation with local communities."

Gloucestershire County Council leader Mark Hawthorne (Con – Quedgeley), said: "We know that the strength of mobile phone signal can vary across the county and we support the idea to try and make coverage more wide spread.

“It's particularly important that we help people in the most isolated parts of the county to stay well connected to friends and family and vital services and help boost the local economy."

Earlier this year, culture secretary John Whittingdale, former chair of the commons culture, media and sport select committee, said the deal to cut not-spots would “probably not” have come about if the government had not threatened mobile operators.

Mr Whittingdale told Cable.co.uk that while some people were debating the rollout of 4G across the UK, but in some areas people still cannot even get 2G or 3G coverage.

He said while things like online content and the way it is distributed are moving forwards, those who cannot even get a mobile phone signal are left frustrated by poor mobile infrastructure.

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