Faster 4G mobile internet access will be brought to Shropshire by the end of the year – bringing fresh hope for rural businesses in need of a better signal.
Phone company EE has pledged to bring 4G to 92 per cent of the UK this year following a meeting with North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson.
The news has been welcomed by Market Drayton’s mayor Councillor David Minnery, who said action was needed to resolve the “dire” signal between the town and Shrewsbury.
Mr Paterson, who is campaigning for better phone and broadband signals in rural areas, brought BT Openreach boss, Clive Selley, and EE representatives to the county earlier this year to see the problems for himself.
At the time Mr Selley pledged to try to find solutions to improve connectivity in rural locations.
Last week the MP met Tim O’Sullivan, director of public affairs for BT, who accompanied Mr Selley to north Shropshire, and Alex Jackman, public affairs manager for EE.
Mr Paterson said: “I was assured that 92 per cent of the UK will receive 4G this year, with improvements to the mobile infrastructure along our main road corridors.
“This is good news and an alternative way that people can access the internet, rather than having to wait for decent broadband access.”
Councillor Minnery said businesses in the town and surrounding areas would benefit from 4G coming to Shropshire.
He is a member of Shropshire Council’s cabinet and spends a lot of time travelling from his home town to Shrewsbury.
“I have had hands-free in my car for about 20 years and the situation is getting worse, not better,” he said.
“The signal is absolutely dire between Shrewsbury and Market Drayton, even on the A53.”
“In the town there are areas where the signal is terrible. I know some people who have to drive to somewhere they know has a good signal and park up just to send an email.”
Councillor Minnery said it was important that the roll-out of faster broadband continued but said that a good 4G signal would help.
“Businesses these days depend on the internet and we in Shropshire depend on small businesses to underpin the economy,” he said. “If rural businesses are to succeed they have to have access to the internet whether that is broadband or a secure 4G system.“Tethering on to a mobile signal does work as long as that signal is reliable. It is a good step forward.”
Mr Selley admitted his surprise at the lack of broadband and mobile signal in the countryside when he visited north Shropshire in February.
He was invited to the county by Mr Paterson, who said broadband problems were preventing many parts of Shropshire being able to compete in business with the rest of Britain.
He said that as farms are increasingly diversifying and more and more businesses are run from home lack of access to the internet was stifling growth.Subscribe to our Newsletter