Procurement · 20 March 2018

Industry takes on poor mobile coverage blighting small businesses

A fifth of business said the UK’s mobile phone network doesn’t fit their needs

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has vowed to identify the worst places in the country to make a phone call to help the fifth of businesses blighted by poor mobile coverage.

As part of the “No More Not Spots” campaign, the BCC wants all businesses and local communities to report gaps in coverage wherever they are in the UK.

A recent survey by the BCC of over 1,400 companies, found that a fifth of firms said the UK mobile phone network doesn’t meet their needs in accessing new and existing customers, suppliers and employees.

The BCC said despite investment in geographic coverage for voice and text, not spots still exist, even in dense commercial centres, road and rail corridors where access issues, the built environment, and the economics of new infrastructure can combine to weaken coverage and frustrate network rollout.

Read more: A quarter of UK office workers threaten to resign over poor mobile coverage

“A reliable mobile phone signal is one of the most basic requirements for any business, as more and more conversations and transactions take place while people are on the go. Unfortunately, dropped calls and poor signal remains an issue in many areas across the UK,” said Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC.

“From today, we’ll be campaigning for an end to mobile phone ‘not spots’ all across the UK, so that businesspeople can connect to customers, suppliers and staff – and so that local communicates can better connect, too. Our campaign will be constructive and focused on solutions.

“While we’ll press for investment and services improvements, we’ll work with mobile operators and all parties with a stake in getting this right across the UK. Working together, business, communities and operators can identify key gaps in coverage and find shared solutions to resolve the real-world connection problems many business communities face. Our message to all businesses is share and report mobile not spots.”

Businesses affected include Oxfordshire based Polar Technology. “We can hardly get a signal in the office or factory, and in almost every direction for 20 miles the signal is so weak it drops out during a call,” said chairman Scott Roberts.

“This is destroying our productivity as we rely on mobile phones to communicate and gets things done, especially when our management teams are on the move.”

Justin Everley, Managing Director of Surf Snowdonia, an artificial wave lagoon in North Wales, is also suffering. “Mobile coverage continues to be unreliable in our area, and no one in business likes unreliability,” he said.

“Poor coverage can mean missed bookings if customers can’t get through to us. Visitors to the region may also need to rely on mobile phone signal to navigate to us, if they get lost and want to make a call, they can be stuck with no coverage.”

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