A summit which brought together leading businesses, public sector organisations with mobile network operators and their trade body has been hailed as a good first step in identifying and addressing the problem of mobile not-spots across the eastern region.
Held in the Guineas suite at Newmarket Racecourses, the ‘by invitation’ summit was hosted by Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk Chambers of Commerce and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) – the first of its kind under the latter’s nationwide ‘No More Not-Spots’ campaign.
The campaign aims to work with trade body Mobile UK and its member network operators to eliminate areas of poor or non-existent mobile voice and data coverage. The initial stage of the campaign seeks to identify as many such not-spots as possible and then work to address them.
To date over 1500 not-spots have been identified across the UK – with nearly 400 of these located in the east of England.
Delegates heard speeches from Rt. Hon Matt Hancock MP, the current secretary of state for Health 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, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive, said: “This was a very positive and purposeful summit that allowed suppliers and customers to come together and start identifying areas of common concern – and possible solutions.
“Mobile not-spots are an impediment to doing good business and the east of England seems to be especially affected. In Suffolk key business corridors such as the A14 and the energy coast are dotted with not-spots and because of their impact on national prosperity, we hope these will be priorities to address.
“In short, this summit points the way to collaboratively sorting these issues.”
The BCC is working with the local chambers to pull together the ideas from the summit into an action plan of improvements over the next year.
Not-spots can be logged here: http://research.britishchambers.org.uk/survey/selfserve/215e/shareyournotspots#?