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'Not fit for purpose': MP Owen Paterson's fury at Shropshire mobile phone signal blips

North Shropshire | News | Published:

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson has told of his fury at the state of Shropshire's mobile phone signals – warning that the service is deteriorating as demand ramps up.

Mr Paterson has hit out at the decreasing reliability of county connections in a bid to keep up pressure on networks to improve their coverage.

As he pinpointed the M54 as the latest blackspot for signal, Mr Paterson said the county's network was "not fit for purpose".

"This is getting serious," he said. "Every day it's getting worse, it's not just bad, it's deteriorating.

"I can't say enough, seriously my choice of language would be too violent and too extreme to get across how bad it is.

"What is important is awareness because every time we have a meeting with them, we have this picture of optimism, these high 90 per cent figures when actually here this system is not fit for purpose.

"There's such an increase in demand, we're all using more data to send and view pictures and watch videos."

After a meeting last month between the county's MPs, deputy leader of Shropshire Council Steve Charmley, mobile phone operators, and Ofcom officials, former Government minister Mr Paterson said each partner went away with plans to work together to find a solution to the area's poor coverage.

"We've all gone away to work together and I just hope a solution can be found, whether it's a smaller number of higher masts or consolidation of the equipment," he added. "I hope the mobile phone companies can come up with some technical solution. This is so important."

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Mr Paterson also said he would be "very happy" to go to the Government to see what can be done.

During previous meetings with mobile phone bosses, Mr Paterson told them they are putting lives at risk by not improving reception in rural parts of the county.

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."

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.

County MPs will next meet with mobile phone and broadband bosses in April as part of their regular MPs day.

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