December 8 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 16, 2013
It is one of Suffolk’s most prestigious seaside towns – regularly attracting thousands of holidaymakers from far and wide.
The government’s £150 million Mobile Improvement Programme is aimed at eliminating total “not spots” across the country where there is no coverage from any network.
In Suffolk there are seven areas being targeted by this programme: Shottisham and Sudbourne in Suffolk Coastal; Holbrook in Babergh; Wordwell, Barningham, Hartest, Highwell Green in West Suffolk as well as the route of the A143 road
from Great Yarmouth to Haverhill.
The government is funding masts – although it will be up to the companies themselves to install transmitters.
However there are many areas where only one or two networks offer coverage – and if you have the “wrong” mobile phone during a visit you will get no signal.
The phone companies do have coverage maps online, allowing users to check their coverage – but that can be little consolation if you are with the wrong network.
Yet visitors to the genteel resort of Aldeburgh will know that mobile phone coverage is patchy at best, with reception from some providers few and far between.
While this is welcomed by some as offering a little much needed escapism from the hustle and bustle of 21st Century life, for others it is a source of continued frustration - and the reason we have laucnhed our Let’s Get Connected campaign.
Annette Mason-Gordon, project co-ordinator for the Heritage Coast Market Towns Initiative (HCMTI), which is made up of Aldeburgh, Saxmundham, Leiston and Framlingham, said: “Businesses rely increasingly on their mobile phones and poor coverage in our region can be restricting, costly and extremely frustrating.
“The people who are probably affected the most are the tradespeople who may have a number of call outs in Aldeburgh for example, and cannot receive calls from their clients or office relating to changes to their schedule or additional appointments which they could attend to whilst there.
“This will clearly have a financial impact on small businesses with additional journeys, wasted time and phone calls being returned.
“It is also important for holiday cottage companies to maintain regular contact with their housekeeping staff to ensure smooth changeovers, and I’m sure the sub-standard coverage impacts on visitors’ enjoyment when trying to maintain contact with their office, or wanting to make plans such as a restaurant reservations.”
Susie Medland, who runs Aldeburgh’s Munchies cafe, said an improved service could also give visiting parents peace of mind.
“Being in the middle of the high street we have always been a bit of a meeting point and we often get visitors coming in asking if they can use our landline – which we are happy to do – because their mobiles don’t work,” she said.
“People don’t expect their phones not to work so they split up – some visit the shops, some go to the boating lake, others to the beach.
“But when it comes to meeting up again parents can’t phone their children because there is no mobile coverage.
“They don’t want to have to get in the car for 15 minutes just to find reception. It shouldn’t happen. You should be able to go anywhere nowadays and use a mobile phone.
“It’s not just Aldeburgh - there are black spots throughout the district. There’s an area in Middleton and a patch on the A12 at Marlesford.”
Ruth Proctor, clerk to Aldeburgh Town Council, said: “The coverage is very patchy. Some people come on holiday and think it’s wonderful but it certainly has its frustrations. We would certainly like to see better mobile phone coverage and improved broadband speeds.”
Peter Osborne, general manager of Aldeburgh’s White Lion hotel, said while he agreed the lack of phone signal was a major frustration – it was also part of the town’s charm.
“That’s what’s unique,” he said.
“You can get away from things and completely switch off. You hear more positives about it than negatives, although I personally find it a real pain.
“With the potential of a new nuclear power station being built at Sizewell what impact will the lack of signal have on people running the show?
“There will be a lot of people coming to stay here and it will be frustrating for them.”