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National parks to get connected with new mobile signal deal

A new agreement forged between the Mobile Operators Association – representing Vodafone, Three, O2 and EE – and National Parks England, aims to boost mobile phone coverage in these beautiful areas. The deal should result in a consistent high-quality mobile signal for local communities in the parks, which are home to a population in excess of 330,000.

Local residents and park visitors currently experience notorious “notspots”, where mobile connectivity disappears completely, apparently caused by the prevalence of stone buildings and upland terrain which obstructs the radio waves used to carry mobile signals. To combat this phenomena, National Parks England director Paul Hamblin has indicated there are plans for new masts, “sensitively located and sensitively designed” to boost signal levels whilst also minimising any “adverse landscape effects”.

The potential environmental impact is clearly a major concern, and the new proposals emphasise the need for "mast-sharing, site-sharing, and any other technical advances" to avoid degrading the landscape whilst upgrading communications.

Underlining the network operators' commitment to these improvements, John Cooke, Mobile Operators Association executive director, said: "There are compelling social and economic reasons for having good mobile connectivity, including mobile broadband, in rural areas... because such connectivity mitigates the disadvantages of greater physical distances and poor transport links. Operators have worked well with National Parks England to ensure that the benefits of mobile connectivity reach communities in these beautiful parts of our country and help them survive and thrive in the 21st Century."

Also endorsing this initiative, a spokesperson from Mountain Rescue England and Wales welcomed the contribution to outdoor safety, but warned that an uncharged mobile phone would still be useless, adding: "It is always helpful if people have a map and a compass."