Access to mobile voice call services is a basic requirement of business today: it’s essential to consumers and for linking people and communities. That’s why the British Chambers of Commerce has launched a campaign calling for No More Not Spots!
A 2017 survey by the BCC found that 70% of UK firms experience ‘not spots’, areas of no mobile coverage by any operator, or ‘partial not spots’, where there is some coverage but not from all networks, in their local area.
The aim of this campaign is to end not spots for voice coverage for UK phone users where they live, work, travel or plans.
From the time that cell phone services were first introduced in the UK to the present day, the locations with signal coverage have grown from a handful of urban areas to around 98% of UK premises (the area immediately adjacent to a property). The UK’s four Mobile Network Operators have invested heavily to deliver against their licence obligation of 90% geographic coverage for voice and text by the end of 2017.
However, despite welcome progress in network rollout, the lived experience of mobile phone users can differ from the scale and consistency suggested by these numbers. With about 30 million residential and commercial properties in the UK, 98% of premises would still leave around 600,000 buildings without coverage; with only 10% of Britain’s landmass ‘developed’ – 90% geographic coverage still leaves not spots in areas like dense commercial centres, road and rail corridors where access issues and the economics of new infrastructure investment are challenging.
Results from BCC’s infrastructure survey, conducted in February this year showed that a majority (53%) of responding businesses perceived the reliability of the UK mobile phone network to have improved over the last five years. But a substantial number (21%) did not agree that the network meets its needs for accessing new and existing customers, suppliers, and employees.
The reasons for patchy coverage are many and varied: from building and vehicle design to the number and location of masts and cells; from the topography of the built and natural landscapes to the technologies in phones.
Through this campaign, we hope to engage with local Chamber business communities to identify gaps in coverage, and to work constructively with industry and government to resolve locally.
Over the next year, Chambers of Commerce will be convening business communities and those involved in delivering coverage, so do keep an eye out for events in your local area and get involved.
And, if you experience a not spot be sure to report it to the British Chambers of Commerce, and tell us about it on Twitter using the hashtag #ShareYourNotSpots.