No More Not-Spots
What is the issue?
Access to mobile voice and data services is a basic requirement of business today: it’s essential to consumers and for linking people and communities. 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 (or ‘MNOs’ - EE, 02, Vodafone and Three), have invested heavily to deliver against their licence obligation of 90% geographic coverage for voice and text by the end of 2017.
Despite welcome progress, the lived experience of mobile phone users differs 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, the built environment (be it structures or vehicles), and the economics of new infrastructure can combine to weaken coverage and frustrate network rollout.
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.
What are we campaigning for?
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, British Chambers of Commerce will mobilise the business community to identify gaps in coverage and work constructively with industry and government to resolve locally.
Our aim: to eliminate not-spots for voice and data coverage in locations used for home, work, travel or play:
Mobile Network Operators: A new plan to extend coverage, working in closer partnership with business
Transport infrastructure providers: enable dedicated network infrastructure for travel corridors
Competition and regulatory authorities: Building regulations and land-use policy that promotes network rollout
Local authorities: Planning and site use that promotes mobile connectivity
Central government and devolved administrations: mobile connectivity as one of the fundamental ‘horizontals' of the forthcoming Industrial Strategy
How will the campaign run?
BCC and Chambers will:
Raise awareness of the campaign among businesses, local government, press and MPs
Encourage businesses and the wider local community to #shareyournotspots on social media, with supporting photos and videos, and through the dedicated facility on their mobile service provider's app
Convene businesses, infrastructure and service providers, local government, agencies and other key local stakeholders in events to identify coverage challenges and work through solutions
Provide practical support for local network rollout (such as backing planning applications, supporting sympathetic land-use and infrastructure development).