Hopes mobile 'not-spots' could shrink under rural network plans

A graphic showing the forecast coverage improvements for North Norfolk, inset, Duncan Baker. 

A graphic showing the forecast coverage improvements for North Norfolk, inset, Duncan Baker. - Credit: Shared Rural Network / Richard Townshend Photography

Poor or non-existent mobile phone connections are something many people in north Norfolk have had to live with.

But it is hoped the roll-out of a 'Shared Rural Network' over the next few years will greatly improve the area's mobile broadband coverage. 

The networks EE, O2, Three and Vodafone are investing £532 million nationally into the programme and the government has pledged another £500 million to build new masts to eliminate ‘total not-spots’ – hard to reach areas where there is currently no coverage at all.

A graphic showing the forecast coverage improvements for North Norfolk. .

A graphic showing the forecast coverage improvements for North Norfolk. . - Credit: Shared Rural Network

Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP, said the Shared Rural Network would be a huge benefit to residents and businesses. 

Mr Baker said: "It remains a key priority to continue improving our connectivity, across both broadband and mobile phone reception.

"This week there is significant news on both, with County Broadband investing in our region and now we can see significant improvements in the shared rural network programme which will bring us even better mobile signal over the next 18 months.

File image of a mobile phone mast. It is hoped the roll-out of a

File image of a mobile phone mast. It is hoped the roll-out of a Shared Rule Network will improve coverage in areas such as north Norfolk. - Credit: Archant

"Very positive for North Norfolk and I am delighted to be pushing these issues for us all. For businesses and our residents it is really positive."

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Ed Maxfield, county councillor for Mundesley, said he had noticed a reduction in the number of complaints about poor signal over the past five years he had been on the council. 

Mr Maxfield said any further progress would be welcomed. 

He said: “It is clearly still a problem in certain areas, but I think people have got used to it being bad and are tired of complaining about it. But there is recognition that progress has been made over the years as well.”

Despite communities welcoming improvements, there have been some controversies over the siting of planned masts in recent years. 

Ed Maxfield, Norfolk county councillor for Mundesley division.

Ed Maxfield, Norfolk county councillor for Mundesley division. - Credit: Supplied by Ed Maxfield

Overstrand residents rallied against plans for a 5G mast in a prominent location last summer, and the scheme was rejected by the district council in August

People in Erpingham also objected to plans for a 30-metre tall 4G phone mast towards the end of 2021

By the end of 2025, the UK's combined coverage area is expected to be at 95pc and Ofcom's deadline for the delivery of publicly-funded coverage improvements in 'total not-spot areas' is early 2027.