Hundreds sign petition calling for better mobile phone reception

Norman Lamb has written to BT Openreach about the poor mobile phone coverage in North Walsham. Pictu

Norman Lamb has written to BT Openreach about the poor mobile phone coverage in North Walsham. Pictures: Eddie Mayell - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling on BT Openreach to end delays to improving mobile phone reception in North Walsham.

A new telecommunications mast is still not operational in the town eight months after it was due to go live.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has written to and demanded a meeting with BT Openreach to discuss the issue.

It follows a petition signed by 265 households from the Brick Kiln estate and surrounding areas with poor mobile phone coverage asking BT to urgently connect them to the network.

Late last year Mr Lamb's office was informed by the mobile phone operators Vodafone and O2 that a new communications mast that they had built at the town's Marshgate sewage works would become operational early in 2018 following work by BT to connect it to the network.

It was the result of a long campaign by residents from Marshgate to the Brick Kiln estate supported by Mr Lamb and local councillors led by Eric Seward for better mobile reception.

The delay has been caused by BT Openreach not being able to lay the fibre cable across private land to connect the new mast to the network as they are waiting to get agreement from the landowner.

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Mr Lamb said: 'The massive petition I have received shows the strength of feeling from residents who cannot get proper mobile phone reception in their homes. It is for this reason that I have asked for a meeting with BT Openreach so that I can learn directly from them what they are doing to bring this unacceptable situation to an end.'

An Openreach spokesman said: 'We are aware of the ongoing issue and are working closely with the landowner to grant us permission to cross their land to connect the site.'

Tom FitzPatrick, Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee, said: 'We have carried out significant work to get an impartial and accurate assessment of mobile phone signals across Norfolk.

'Since we launched our mobile phone map in May, we have been busy identifying more than 200 council-owned sites that could be used to house mobile phone masts and are starting talks with network operators about how they can take advantage of these sites as quickly as possible. I am pleased to say that the mobile network operators have started to respond to areas we have shown to have connectivity issues.

'We are also committed to making applications for wayleaves as straight forward and efficient as possible to ensure that cables can be laid across both public and private land.'

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