Jim Armitage: Rural businesses let down by poor internet connections

 

Outlook The criticism of David Cameron for being on holiday while Isis loonies ran amok last week seemed unfair. After all, the poor man was only in Cornwall – hardly the most impenetrable part of the planet for modern communications. Or is it?

At about the same time, on perhaps more trivial matters, I too received a call from the office back in London to do a spot of work while holidaying in God’s own county of Devon.

I was staying in the ancestral bungalow in sunny Salcombe, where money from London and Home Counties bankers and corporate tycoons has changed the place out of all recognition from when I were a lad.    

But despite all the new luxury holiday developments owned by Land Rover-driving business types, who surely are far too important to be incommunicado from the office for a fortnight, as I was to discover in my attempts to research and file copy for The Independent, mobile phone coverage for voice calls was patchy: smartphone and iPad internet access was practically non-existent. As for office emails? Forget about it.

A race through the town’s swanky coffee bars and hotels ensued until finally I found one whose wi-fi was running quick enough to be useful. Even there, though, it seemed barely faster than the bad old days of dial-up internet.

Many a time when staying in blissful Devon, I’ve pondered relocating, but with such poor mobile links, you have to be joking – my line of work would be impossible.

It’s not just whingeing holidaymakers on call to the office who suffer. Like my granddad, who made a decent living as a skilled gardener for Salcombe’s well-to-do, Devon folk are an entrepreneurial lot. But great businesses there are missing out because customers on the move can’t get mobile internet access for information.

It’s the same across swathes of the West Country and other rural areas: despite years of claims from politicians that they’ll bring them the same mobile access that most of the Western world has been enjoying for the past decade, little improves.

Friends say I’m missing the point: what could be better than being totally out of reach of the office? 

But even if work emails and calls are an irritation, I still want to be able to use my mobile to book the kids’ surfing lessons, find the address of that restaurant, search where to get a David Cameron wimp-wetsuit. In other words – spend my money with local businesses.

Until the phone companies get their  acts together – with a meaningful kick  up the backside from the Government  – the economies of Devon and other great parts of the country will be needlessly  held back.

So, have some holiday crisis talks about that, Mr Cameron.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor