Nationwide mobile 'not-spots' are hobbling UK businesses, says British Chambers of Commerce

A lack of mobile coverage is impairing vital tasks such as working on the move and online trading

Miles Dilworth
Thursday 11 May 2017 18:04
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The BCC is calling on the Government to provide all businesses with better broadband and mobile connectivity ‘to boost confidence and productivity’
The BCC is calling on the Government to provide all businesses with better broadband and mobile connectivity ‘to boost confidence and productivity’

The vast majority of UK companies are hampered by a lack of mobile coverage, with businesses in rural areas the most severely affected, according to a new report.

A survey of more than 1,400 firms across the UK, conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and published on Friday, found that 70 per cent of businesses across the country are experiencing full or partial “not-spots” in their mobile coverage, impeding their ability to perform basic functions.

The problem is particularly acute in rural areas, where 91 per cent of businesses reported such issues, compared with 56 per cent of those in inner cities.

According to Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, the high proportion of “not-spots” is impairing vital tasks such as working on the move and online trading.

“Time and again, I hear from frustrated businesspeople who can’t use their mobiles or access the internet when they need to,” said Mr Marshall.

“Rural businesses are particularly affected by poor mobile coverage and connectivity, but our research shows that ‘not-spots’ are prevalent across the UK. It’s incredible to hear that in this day and age there are even places in the City of London where businesses can’t get reliable coverage,” he added.

The report also shows that 29 per cent of businesses have unreliable mobile internet connections, with the figure rising to 54 per cent in rural areas. Smaller companies with between one and four employees are less likely to report a 4G connection (41 per cent) than businesses with more than 500 workers (57 per cent), according to the report.

Mr Marshall said that relaxing planning laws to allow for taller masts would “be a quick win” to help improve mobile coverage and called on the next government to provide all businesses with better broadband and mobile connectivity “to boost confidence and productivity”.

Mr Marshall also demanded that Ofcom stepped up their efforts to hold providers to account, adding that the BCC’s research showed the regulator was “a long way off” achieving its their target of providing signal to 90 per cent of the UK by this year.

In September last year, the Government pledged to hand Ofcom the power to fine providers if they did do not meet the target, following a parliamentary report that found mobile phone coverage in Britain had not improved significantly since 2014, despite billions of pounds invested in it.

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