Poor phone signal leaves Shropshire at 'massive disadvantage', says Owen Paterson MP
Poor mobile phone signal is leaving Shropshire at a "massive disadvantage", according to one of the county's MPs.
North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson has spoken furiously ahead of a crunch tomorrow when the county's MPs and deputy leader of Shropshire Council Steve Charmley will meet with mobile phone operators, as well as Ofcom.
Former Government minister Mr Paterson said the county's deteriorating mobile phone coverage "leaves him in a complete rage."
"It's not just bad, it's not static, it's actively deteriorating which is leaving Shropshire at a massive disadvantage," he said.
"It's totally unacceptable. I would use inflammatory language to explain my feelings on the matter but I won't."
Mr Paterson said he believes the problems are a combination of companies consolidating their masts which is reducing coverage as well as an increase in consumer's data usage.
He said: "There is increased demand on the network as consumers are using more data to watch videos, view pictures and listen to music.
"Originally this was a system designed for talking, now it's struggling to cope with the volume of data being consumed."
Mr Paterson also criticised the mobile phone companies who he said "need to get their acts together".
He said: "I want to really frighten these companies because it's not acceptable for mobile phone signal to be deteriorating today.
"Two inventions would totally transform rural areas - comprehensive mobile phone coverage and comprehensive broadband, and despite mobile phones being around longer, it's mobile phone signal that is deteriorating."
Previously Mr Paterson met with mobile phone bosses from BT and Vodafone where he told them they are putting lives at risk by not improving reception in rural parts of the county.
He said as well as affecting the economy, having no mobile signal could be the difference between life and death.
In October he said: "No matter where you are in the county, you should be able to call for an ambulance, the fire service or the police without fear that you may not get a signal."
Mr Paterson has also urged constituents to contact him so he can find out which are the worst affected areas in the region.
Last year, 2,000 people signed the Shropshire Star's Get Us Connected petition, which called for the big four mobile phone providers – O2, EE, Vodafone and Three – to improve their service in rural areas.
Representatives from mobile phone operators EE, Vodafone and BT will be at the meeting on Friday.
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