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Mobile phone companies EE, O2, Three and Vodafone to discuss coverage in Norfolk as 57pc of businesses lack 4G

File photo of a woman using a mobile phone. Photo: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

File photo of a woman using a mobile phone. Photo: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

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Representatives from the four main providers of mobile networks in Norfolk will attend a Norfolk County Council meeting later this month to discuss how mobile coverage in the county could be improved.

Senior figures from EE, Telefonica/O2, Three and Vodafone have agreed to come to a meeting of the council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee on Monday, 22 January to update councillors on their current investment plans and identify any opportunities to work together to improve the quality and reach of mobile data and voice coverage in Norfolk.

Tom Garrod, Chairman of the Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee, said: “We all know that mobile coverage in Norfolk is some way off where we want and need it to be.

“Rather than grumble and point fingers, we want to see if there are practical things we can do to help the situation. I’m really pleased the four major mobile providers have accepted our invitation to come and talk to the committee. With a willingness to work together this could be a watershed moment for mobile connectivity in the county.”

As well as the four mobile providers, representatives from the mobile networks trade body, Mobile UK, and the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce will attend the meeting and take part in the discussion.

Nova Fairbank, Public Affairs Manager for Norfolk Chamber said: “Every Norfolk business wants to able to take advantage of new technology developments as they evolve. To achieve this we need more investment in our mobile signal infrastructure and changes in how the service providers operate i.e. roaming signals. The present mobile coverage maps show that there is still a big difference between coverage levels when using a mobile phone indoors and outdoors – by definition a mobile should be just that – mobile.

“A recent British Chambers of Commerce survey showed that 83pc of Norfolk business users experienced ‘not spots’; 43pc had access to 4G; and more concerning, there is still 11pc of business users who can only access 2G - voice calls only, with no internet or data.

“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.”

Opportunities to improve mobile coverage in Norfolk could include identifying and trying to remove any common barriers, using public sector buildings and assets to host mobile infrastructure and better sharing of information, including the results of the County Council’s recently announced mobile coverage survey. This will map mobile voice and data coverage across all major networks providing services in Norfolk. The council is due to award the contract to carry out the survey later this month and the results should be available in March.

Norfolk County Council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee will meet at 10am on Monday, 22 January at County Hall in Norwich, with the mobile telecommunications item due to be discussed at around 11am. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

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