Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce is leading a new initiative to improve mobile phone signal strength and coverage in the village.
Anne Milton MP chaired a meeting on Friday with representatives from the mobile phone networks, designed to agree on actions to improve these services for local residents and businesses.
The initiative follows a recent survey carried out by Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce, which identified the seriousness of the issue. Nearly 400 local residents submitted data as part of the survey, which was subsequently analysed by the Chamber.
The survey found that nearly two-thirds of residents experience no signal or very low signal when using their mobile phones.
Comments attached to the survey included one resident telling the Chamber, “It is impossible for me to use my mobile in most parts of Cranleigh.” Another survey respondent noted, “It is highly prohibitive from a business perspective.”
Promising to carry out further work to confirm the extent of the issues, O2 and Vodafone both agreed to hold ‘drive tests’ in the village within the next fortnight. This period of on-site engineer surveying could result in further optimisation for the existing phone masts, with the longer-term possibility of new infrastructure for Cranleigh.
EE, who also had a representative at the meeting, are in the process of upgrading their site between Cranleigh and Ewhurst, which attendees were told should result in a much better signal and coverage, especially in the High Street. Their new technology in Cranleigh will operate on the 800 Mhz spectrum, but will require the use of a modern 4G enabled handset.
Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce vice president Martin Bamford, said:
This is an important project for residents and businesses in and around Cranleigh, and we are very pleased that Anne Milton was able to arrange this meeting with the largest mobile phone providers.
One of the first wins for the current Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce committee was to lobby the mobile phone providers for an upgrade from 3G to 4G in the village. Our recent survey shows that signal strength, coverage and consistency all remain huge problems for people living and working in Cranleigh, despite the availability of 4G.
With a growing local population, it’s essential that the mobile phone providers stay ahead of the curve and invest in infrastructure. The ability to use the voice and data aspects of a mobile phone is an absolute must in the 21st century, and not something that should be limited to those living and working in larger towns or cities.
A number of action points were agreed at the meeting, with Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce committing to sharing population growth data with the phone providers, as well as a list of postcodes for their drive tests, and suggesting suitable sites for new phone masts.