Owen Paterson on Mobile Signals

Living in Shropshire has enormous advantages but one of the areas of immense frustration is the hopeless lack of reliable mobile phone reception.

It is wholly unacceptable that in 2014 with all our technology, no one is able to travel between the five market towns of North Shropshire without the signal cutting out.

One of the issues that bugged me in Government was that the data on phone signals provided to us proved to be wildly inaccurate.  I was therefore pleased to learn about the Countryside Alliance’s campaign which aims to highlight the areas most affected by lack of coverage. It’s a worthwhile initiative and one which relies upon people in the area helping out. By installing the Countryside Alliance app, your mobile phone can start mapping the areas with little reception and then feed these results back. It’s a fantastic idea but more people need to get involved so that they can get more accurate results. 

A few months ago the Shropshire Star started their ‘Get Us Connected’ campaign. In no time at all the petition had gained nearly 2,000 signatures and the backing of Shropshire Council.  Lack of reception in Shropshire is not just immensely damaging to the quality of social life and business activity; in cases of emergency it actually puts lives at risk.  This petition will be presented to Sajid Javid MP, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

As Secretary of State for DEFRA I had regular meetings with Cabinet colleagues in DCMS and DCLG looking at ways the Government could improve coverage in the countryside.   My DEFRA job took me to every corner of rural Britain and I became increasingly concerned at the impact that lack of signal was having on rural areas; I was particularly pleased by the new Secretary of State, Sajid Javid’s willingness to listen to my concerns and tackle this problem once and for all. 

I am very interested in his current consultation on national roaming.  The Government has given the industry, businesses and the public until 26th November to respond to the proposals; I hope that local people will make their views heard.