Areas near Saffron Walden still struggling for mobile phone coverage

Mobile phone

Mobile phone - Credit: PA

Some parts of Uttlesford are still struggling to make mobile phone calls and send text messages, according to the UK’s independent communications regulator - Ofcom.

The mobile coverage checker website provided by the regulator shows that many rural areas in the county either experience problems making calls or receive no service whatsoever.

The village of Clavering, near Saffron Walden, was one of the worst hit areas, with residents “unlikely to receive a reliable signal” on providers Vodafone, O2, and Three. EE was the only network to provide a good outside coverage, although villagers still may experience problems when using their phone inside.

Rebbeca Stanford, vice chairman of Clavering Parish Council, said: “Most of the people I know in the village use EE as it is the only network that seems to work. A lot of people run businesses from their homes and the poor signal makes it very difficult for them to do so.”

Saffron Walden residents receive good network coverage for voice calls, but only EE could provide 4G internet access on mobile devices, and Vodafone could not guarantee 3G coverage in the area.

A spokesman for Vodafone said: “We current spend more than £1 billion on our network across the country with a pledge to provide coverage to 98% of the UK population using our 2G, 3G or 4G services. However, in order to provide this coverage we must be able to install masts. This is the same for all mobile operators. Whilst we always share an existing structure where we can, this is not always possible.

“Building a new mast in the right place requires the agreement of the land or site owner and the appropriate planning permission from the local authority. It also depends in many cases on consultation with local residents - particularly in built-up areas and this can take 12 months or more to achieve. However, we do recognise the importance of mobile connectivity and we will continue to bring improved services to our customers across the UK.”

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Ben Underwood, of the Country, Land and Business Association (CLA) said: “Rural firms and countryside communities have been strangled by poor mobile reception and non-existent broadband services for too long.

“These factors are barriers to growth and job creation in rural communities. Until we have universal service this will perpetuate inequality of opportunity between our towns and cities and our rural communities.

“It is not acceptable that there is still no plan for reaching 5% of the homes and businesses in the country, and we need a much more ambitious approach from the government in finding ways to get to the hardest to reach areas.”