Survey finds one in five mobile phone calls fail in Norfolk

Tom Garrod, chairman of Norfolk County Council's Digital Innovation and Efficiency committee. Submitted picture.
Tom Garrod, chairman of Norfolk County Council's Digital Innovation and Efficiency committee. Submitted picture.

Attempts to make a mobile phone calls in locations across Norfolk are likely to be unsuccessful nearly one in five times, an independent survey has found.

Norfolk County Council commissioned the survey earlier this year to reveal a picture of mobile voice and data coverage in the county.

Survey equipment used in the Norfolk County Council survey. Submitted picture.

Survey equipment used in the Norfolk County Council survey. Submitted picture.

The council’s goal is to use the information to work with mobile providers to improve coverage and tackle ‘not spots’.

The survey found that phone signals for making voice calls in Norfolk were identified as a particular issue, with only 82 per cent of call attempts being successful. The call failures happened throughout the county across a broad range of locations and for all operators.

It also found mobile data, for 3G and/or 4G, services were available in around 91 per cent of locations surveyed.

Attempts to browse the web and stream video using mobile data were also successful around 85 per cent of the time, but web browsing success rates were considerably lower across all operators on 3G.

We’ve made it clear that this isn’t just a fact finding mission for us – we want to use this information to make a difference and improve mobile phone coverage in Norfolk

Tom Garrod

Additionally, 4G data download speeds were good compared to the national average, particularly on EE, however 4G coverage issues were widespread which could impact on people’s experience of using the service, particularly indoors.

The survey was carried out between February and March this year and saw a specialist company, AWTG, appointed to gather information on the extent and quality of mobile phone coverage throughout the county.

The survey was conducted along more than 3,400 miles of Norfolk’s roads but also at 30 railway stations and main railway lines, enterprise zones and popular tourist sites and destinations.

Tom Garrod, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency committee, said: “People have been telling us for some time that phone signal around the county isn’t good enough. While the survey shows Norfolk is comparable to the rest of the UK in some respects, it’s clear there is still considerable room for improvement, particularly in enabling people to make phone calls wherever they are in the county.

“We’ve made it clear that this isn’t just a fact finding mission for us – we want to use this information to make a difference and improve mobile phone coverage in Norfolk. We’ve already made the four main mobile network providers the offer of installing their mobile infrastructure on more than 200 public sector buildings and structures in the county, which was warmly received, so we now need to match these structures with the ‘not spots’ identified in the survey.”

Norfolk County Council will also start work on plotting the information collected onto an interactive map that will be available on the council’s website. This will allow people to see which of the four major providers – EE, Telefonica/O2, Three and Vodafone – have the best coverage by area and for their needs.

This map and more detailed information about the outcome of the survey is due to be available to coincide with the next meeting of the council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee, where the outcome of the survey and next steps will be discussed.

The committee will meet on May 11 at County Hall, Norwich.