Half of traders say mobile reception is still poor

Mobile connectivity has not improved for almost one in three businesses, for whom frustrating ‘not-spots’ are still ubiquitous, a business group says.

Nearly one in five traders say the UK’s mobile phone network has actually gone into reverse, meaning the chance of getting reception to make a call has reduced, found the British Chambers of Commerce.

Such gaps in mobile coverage – not-spots – are what the BCC is inviting business owners to come forward and identify, seemingly in the hope of shaming the government and ISPs into action.

And in the last month alone (since the chamber made the call for firms to pinpoint poor signal areas), over 500 not-spots have been flagged up across the country.

“A reliable mobile signal is a basic everyday requirement for businesses,” reflected BCC director Adam Marshall.

“There's clearly still work to do to translate upgrades into a better real-life experience for users. Not spots generate understandable frustration, and undermine firms’ productivity and their ability to connect with customers [and] suppliers”.

Marshall used a newspaper interview at the weekend to remind the government that updating Britain’s ageing telecoms network is just as important as securing a favourable Brexit agreement.

“Businesses are tired of hearing nothing except Brexit when they have practical, everyday concerns that are not being addressed,” he told the Sunday Times.

The chamber said that better mobile coverage was part of “getting the basics right” – something it thinks Brexit has wrongly de-prioritised.

“Ministers must pay more attention to delivering a great environment for growth here at home, not spend all their time on the twists and turns of Brexit.,” the group said.  

“A reliable national mobile network must be high on the list -- so that we can take advantage of new technologies like 5G in future.”

According to the poll, 53% of business owners believe mobile phone reception has improved compared to five years ago; 30% think there has been no change and 16% say that it has worsened.

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