New scheme launched to improve mobile phone coverage

Mobile phone coverage in some of the most rural areas of Devon and Somerset is set to be improved under a new scheme.

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) has launched the roll out of its new “Mobile Booster” scheme, aimed at small businesses and households in rural communities who currently have inadequate coverage, have access to only one provider and who are currently struggling with connectivity.

The initiative, which is being funded through the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s (HotSWLEP) Growth Deal, will offer vouchers worth £800 to enable selected premises to purchase a wireless mobile signal booster in order to improve their 4G coverage.

Data from Ofcom states that 23,000 premises across the Devon and Somerset area are 4G “not-spots”, meaning they lack adequate coverage.

The Mobile Booster project aims to upgrade 4G coverage within homes and businesses in order to improve connectivity and the ability to make voice calls. The programme will focus on small business connections and will target those premises which have no adequate coverage from any operator or only one operator.

Work will begin this month and the aim is to install 1,250 systems by February 2022.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “This initiative will help reach businesses and residents who are currently struggling with a poor 4G mobile signal. Those who are able to benefit from this scheme will see an improvement in their service, and for those working remotely it can help increase their productivity.”

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “A lot of people take 4G coverage for granted, but some people in rural parts of our region still struggle for decent coverage. This scheme aims to level that up in some of the ‘not spot’ areas. This will have a positive impact on all premises selected for the scheme.”

Karl Tucker, Chair of HotSW LEP, said: “We are delighted that the Heart of the SW LEP has been able to support this project through Growth Deal funding. The Growth Deal programme aims to fund strategic infrastructure projects that will help stimulate economic growth and increased productivity. The ‘Mobile Booster’ scheme will support the hardest to reach areas, benefiting small businesses and residents, making it easier to work from home, access services online and stay connected.”

The scheme will run alongside the current work of CDS to improve broadband connectivity in the hardest to reach areas of Devon and Somerset.

For more information go to https://www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk/