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Mobile providers outline plan to tackle not-spots in Shropshire

Wednesday, June 10th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Improvements to mobile coverage in Shropshire will happen as “quickly and efficiently” as possible, customers have been reassured.

The Mobile Operator’s Association (MOA), which represents the four major operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, has outlined plans to improve the scale and quality of coverage in the county as part of a £5bn UK-wide investment programme.

The MOA attended a briefing in Shropshire along with representatives from Ofcom, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and mobile operators to discuss plans to improve coverage in the area.

The issue of poor mobile coverage and ‘not-spots’ – areas where there is little or no signal – has previously been highlighted by customers in Shropshire.

They include hundreds of angry EE customers, who Cable.co.uk previously reported had signed a petition calling for the firm to reimburse them for a service they said was “largely unavailable” and “not fit for purpose”.

Last week’s briefing was hosted by Shropshire Council leader Keith Barrow, who said the attendance showed how important the issue of mobile coverage – or lack of it – is for people who live, work and visit Shropshire.

“That’s why Shropshire Council has stepped in and called the main players together to provide a briefing on their plans for Shropshire,” he said.

Improving mobile coverage a priority

“All parties are pushing to improve coverage as much as possible and, henceforth, Shropshire Council will act as a conduit between the infrastructure providers and communities to make sure this happens as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

A representative from Ofcom said improving mobile signal coverage is a government priority, and it is helping to achieve this in three ways: by releasing new radio spectrum; giving better coverage information to allow customers to make informed choices about which operator to use; and supporting government-led initiatives, like the Mobile Infrastructure Project.

The MOA said it was pleased to outline plans for improving the scale and quality of mobile coverage in Shropshire over the next few years.

The plans are part of a £5bn investment programme in the UK over the next three years following a deal between the government and mobile operators.

The MOA said in a statement: “Operators want to deliver the best service possible to consumers and businesses and 99% of the population already has mobile coverage.

“We have signed up to provide coverage in the next three years to 90% of the UK landmass. That’s a big challenge.

“We need support from local councils by giving planning permission for new sites or site sharing and upgrades to sites to roll out 4G or that 90% will be hard to deliver.”

The association is also asking the government for urgent reform to what it describes as “outdated regulations”, which it said will “deliver a fair regime for mobile infrastructure to benefit customers now and support the UK’s digital economy in the future, not stop it in its tracks”.

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