MOBILE network operators are failing to submit planning applications for new mobile phone masts to resolve coverage in the worst served rural areas, research shows.

New information reveals that some planning authorities in England and Wales received no applications for new masts in 2015, 2016 or 2017.

The CLA, which represents 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses, obtained the data through Freedom of Information requests to planning authorities across England and Wales.

From Dorset, only Purbeck and East Dorset planning authorities returned adequate results. They reveal that there were just three applications for new masts in the same three years in Purbeck, and four applications in East Dorset, with none submitted at all in the area in 2017.

The report also reveals that north Dorset is ranked the 14th worst area in the country for indoor 4G coverage from all operators, out of 389 areas, only receiving 14.2 per cent coverage. Purbeck is ranked at 50th worst with 25.4 per cent coverage.

It contrasts with urban areas such as Bournemouth and Poole which are ranked 311th and 337th respectively and both receive more than 70 per cent coverage.

CLA South West Director John Mortimer said: “Mobile 4G is another example of how the rural economy is being left behind in the digital revolution. Rural businesses need to get connected so that they can compete in a digital world.”

He continued: “Regrettably, for many residents and visitors to Dorset, poor phone signal is an all too common issue. The county is infamous for its poor mobile reception, a reputation that is borne out by the release in December 2017 of Ofcom’s Connected Nations report which placed north Dorset in the top 15 worst local authorities in England and Wales for indoor 4G coverage.”

The CLA has highlighted Ofcom’s failure to push mobile network operators to achieve universal coverage for consumers and is calling on the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to review Ofcom’s statutory remit and confirm that the body should prioritise working towards universal mobile coverage for consumers.


t: 01305 830817

e: katie.williams

twitter: @DorsetEchoKatie