Chamber News

4G rural network plan “another campaign success for Chamber network”

4G rural network plan “another campaign success for Chamber network”

Plans announced last week by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for a £1 billion deal with the mobile phone industry to banish rural no-spots has been welcomed by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, which has taken a leading regional role in the campaign.

The Government now backs industry plans to build a Shared Rural Network aimed at funding a programme of new phone masts in those rural areas that suffer from not-spots – in other words poor or intermittent 4G mobile coverage.

This announcement marks a campaign success for the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which has been running its No More Not-Spots initiative to deliver such a commitment.

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce – and the businesses it represents - is especially pleased by the commitments given by the network operators.

Suffolk Chamber took a lead across the UK in encouraging its members and others in the Eastern region to register not-spots. Over 1500 not-spots were identified across the UK – with nearly 400 of these located in the east of England.

The high number of not-spots in the region prompted Suffolk Chamber to organise a regional summit last year, which was also supported by Cambridgeshire, Essex, and Norfolk Chambers of Commerce.

Delegates heard speeches from Rt. Hon Matt Hancock MP, the current secretary of state for Health & Social Care and the previous secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Hannah Essex, co-executive director of policy & campaigns at the BCC, Mobile UK’s head of policy & communications, Gareth Elliott and Geoff Connell, head of IMT at Norfolk County Council.

These speakers outlined the impact on businesses of poor or non-existent mobile coverage, the level of investment being expended to address the problem and proven ways of working in partnership to more rapidly identify and solve not-spot issues.

The delegates also engaged in roundtable discussions to look in detail as to how businesses themselves, local planning authorities and the mobile operators can address specific not-spots in future months.

John Dugmore, chief executive at Suffolk Chamber, said: “This announcement will offer hope to all our rural businesses whose day-to-day operations have been made harder and whose growth plans have been put on the back burner because of poor 4G coverage.

“Good campaigning takes evidence, skill and time, and I’m delighted that the BCC has effectively used the evidence gathered by local and regional companies to help nudge this arrangement with the network operators over the line.

“Suffolk Chamber is proud to have played an important role in another successful pro-business and pro-community campaign.”

 

Article by Suffolk Chamber