Belfast Telegraph

Some rural areas still have problems getting mobile signal

By Adrian Rutherford

Despite growing demand for smartphones and tablet computers, some people in Northern Ireland still struggle for a basic mobile phone signal.

Parts of rural Fermanagh and Tyrone have long been black spots for coverage. It has led to calls for the Executive to give greater support to investment in the mobile phone network in remote areas.

Mid-Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone, who chairs the Assembly's enterprise, trade and investment committee, said he has been lobbying mobile phone companies about improving the signal strength in rural areas.

"As an MLA representing a rural constituency I know the problem my constituents face when trying to use mobile phones," he said.

"The available signal is often unreliable or even non-existent, and I have received complaints from across the east Tyrone, loughshore and south Derry area.

"There are similar issues with broadband, with more isolated communities unable to access the speed of service required for today's modern internet. I've contacted all of the major providers in recent weeks on this issue."

Mr McGlone said he met with a senior manager from O2 with responsibility for Northern Ireland.

According to the SDLP MLA, an O2 investment programme will see significant improvements across Northern Ireland by next March. Mr McGlone said he has also written to the chief executive of Vodafone to discuss their plans to improve coverage.

"It is important that all the mobile companies keep the public updated on the timeframe for the roll-out of 4G across Northern Ireland, particularly in rural areas, and what measures are in place for the transfer of coverage during this process." he added.

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