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Where are the mobile notspots in Suffolk and Essex for phone users?

PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:18 06 November 2017

Mobile phone coverage can be patchy in Suffolk. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Mobile phone coverage can be patchy in Suffolk. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Our survey on mobile coverage in Suffolk and north Essex has now closed – but it has built up a map showing the areas with the most serious problems.

And it has also given an indication of where coverage may have improved in recent years – the areas where people record the greatest satisfaction with services.

A total of 510 people responded to our survey from all the major phone operators – and from newcomers to the market who use other providers to carry their signal.

The responses showed the most dissatisfaction with mobile coverage came from people living or visiting some of the more rural areas – although there are pockets of poor coverage in towns as well.

The areas with the largest number of dissatisfied users are the Suffolk coastal strip from Bawdsey and Sutton up to Dunwich and the A12 at Darsham, the “High Suffolk” area from Framlingham to the Norfolk border including villages like Stradbroke, Fressingfield and Debenham, and villages to the south of Bury St Edmunds like Lawshall, Whepstead and Shimpling.

In Ipswich there are reception problems in the Woodbridge Road area. And there are problems for users on both sides of the Essex/Suffolk border.

The places with more satisfied customers tend to be the area’s towns – Sudbury, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Clacton, Woodbridge and Felixstowe all have a significant number of people saying they are happy with their service.

This could be because the signals have recently improved in these areas and mobile users are now seeing a better service.

But most of the comments we received were from people unhappy with their service.

They included:

*Calls drop, calls do not come through at all, texts can take several hours to arrive

*Part of the main road between Mersea Island has no signal. This has meant no mobile call could be made when car has broken down.
*No signal at all and home. Unable to use mobile for work so have to give out home landline number.

*My employer relies on being to contact me as part of an on call commitment the contact has to be via works supplied mobile and basically I get no coverage indoors without a booster.

Survey should give ammunition in battle to improve broadband

The results of our survey did not come as surprise to Nick Burfield from the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce which is preparing for a meeting to discuss connectivity in the county next year.

He said: “I am not surprised that many people are still dissatisfied with the mobile coverage in the county – it is not very reliable in many places, especially in rural areas.

“And there are particular problems if you are travelling and trying to used mobile phones on the major roads like the A14.”

Mr Burfield said his members were still frustrated by problems with both mobile and wi-fi coverage while travelling by train in the region – they found signals came and went which made it impossible to do work on the train.

He suspected the areas where people reported a good signal were those where there had recently been an improvement.

“In the Christchurch Park area of Ipswich the signal was not very good at all until recently – now it seems much better and that would encourage people to feel better about it.

“But the real problem with mobile coverage, as opposed to broadband, is that you have four networks and while some do work together it seems to the users that it is sometimes pot luck whether your phone will work in a particular area.”

He said a meeting in January was looking at mobile and broadband issues in the county and he would be taking the results of our survey to that.

Suffolk County Council deputy leader Jane Storey is responsible for mobile and broadband coverage and said that there was still a need for improvement.

But she remained relatively hopeful: “There are new requirements coming in for mobile firms at the end of the year (they have to meet new coverage requirements as part of their licences from the government) and Suffolk is relatively flat so it should not be too difficult to get a signal through.”

And she felt the fact that West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock was minister responsible for mobile and broadband meant it was easier for Whitehall to know what was happening in the county.

She said: “Your survey got a good number of responses, and while you are always going to get more dissatisfied people replying, it is good to know some people are happy with their mobile service.”

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