David Cameron has revealed that he has twice cut short family holidays to Cornwall and rushed back to London – because he was unable to get signal on his mobile phone.
For many of us the chance to disconnect is one of the biggest perks of a summer getaway – but it seems it isn’t that simple when you’re the Prime Minister and crises erupt in the Middle East.
Bemoaning the woeful broadband speeds and network coverage available in the hills and B roads of the South West, Mr Cameron admitted that there had been times when it was so bad he had to give up on his regular rural escape altogether.
Speaking in an interview marking the Western Morning News’ first Sunday edition today, the Prime Minister said that for important calls to the likes of US President Barack Obama he “know[s] where to go to get signal”.
But when more volatile and long-running conflicts have emerge in recent years, Mr Cameron said, Cornish connectivity hasn’t been enough for him to keep up.
In August last year he had to rush back east to deal with the growing crisis in Syria, and in 2011 a lack of signal similarly prevented him from being updated on the fall of colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
He said poor technology “affects Prime Ministers making important calls wherever they are, but it affects everybody”, and that so-called Broadband “not-spots” are “a really big issue for people all over the country”.
Mr Cameron’s Government has already said it is investing up to £150 million to improve mobile coverage in areas where there is currently no coverage from any of the mobile network operators.
And ministers are discussing plans to persuade mobile phone operators to help increase coverage by sharing phone masts, allowing for national roaming across providers in the UK and addressing the “not-spot” issue.
The Prime Minister said: “For rural communities, not being connected to super-fast broadband is a bit like not being connected to the road network. It's that bad.
“So much work is being done online that it really is a 'must-have'. We've got to crack this.”