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Phone Signal: Rural Areas

Volume 708: debated on Thursday 10 February 2022

3. What steps her Department is taking to ensure reliable phone signal in (a) North Norfolk and (b) other rural areas. (905556)

We very much understand the frustration of poor mobile coverage in rural areas. That is why we agreed a deal with the operators to deliver the shared rural network, which tackles notspots and reduces the divide in connectivity between urban and rural areas. Norfolk will see coverage uplifts by the industry element of that programme, which is due to complete in June 2024.

As my hon. Friend may be aware, my constituency has many areas of outstanding natural beauty. They include Salthouse, Overstrand and Kelling, and I am sure she may want to spend her holidays there this summer. However, places such as those also have incredibly bad mobile phone reception, and residents are caught between better reception and blighting the area with mobile telecoms infrastructure. Would the Minister meet me to discuss how we can bring a better mobile signal to those areas without decreasing their natural beauty?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question, and I can assure him that I know how beautiful North Norfolk is. I spent some time there last summer, and it is an incredibly picturesque part of the country. We want to maintain that, and that is why the shared rural network aims to transform mobile coverage without duplicating infrastructure, therefore minimising the visual impact. My officials have spoken to the shared rural network, and they will be getting in touch with his team. I would be happy to meet him after that to see how we can do more in this area.