Suffolk: Phone giant Vodafone told to boost mobile coverage
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Britain’s largest mobile operator has come under fire from regulator Ofcom for failing to meet its coverage target this year.
But it has pledged to double its signal strength to large areas of east Suffolk over the next two years.
Vodafone, like all operators, had an obligation to cover 90% of the properties in the UK under the terms of its licence.
It is the only operator to fall short of this target – by 1.4% – and has been given until the end of the year to reach 90% coverage.
Its coverage in east Suffolk is particularly poor – Vodafone customers are unable to get a signal in popular towns and villages like Aldeburgh and Orford.
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A spokeswoman for the company said it was taking immediate action: “Our 3G licence includes an obligation to cover 90% of the population and Ofcom is fully aware of our plans to ensure compliance by the end of this year.
“Our network investment stands at more than £900m this year alone and we remain on track to deliver indoor coverage across 2G, 3G and 4G to 98% of the population by 2015, two years ahead of the regulator’s deadline.”
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She added that an agreement to share masts with O2 should double its coverage in east Suffolk within the next two years.
The agreement had been signed last year and was still being extended to all parts of the country.
Annette Mason-Gordon from the Heritage Towns Marketing Initiative welcomed the news that Vodafone coverage would improve – but felt two years would be a long time to wait.
She said: “It is an inconvenience for people visiting on holiday or for a day trip, and for those who come to the area to do business and cannot be contacted.
“Two years is a long time to wait and we really would like to see something resolved sooner than this.”
Residents who live in the area know which phone networks offer coverage, but that is not possible for those visiting from some way away.
Ms Mason-Gordon added: “Towns and villages in the area are not in competition with each other for business – they are in competition with other parts of the country like Cornwall for tourism.”
The EADT launched the Let’s Get Connected campaign to raise awareness of the problems caused by poor mobile coverage.