Mobile coverage stepped up in national parks, bringing better signal to remote spots

A deal between mobile operators and England's national parks should improve mobile coverage in areas like the Lake District and Dartmoor without damage to the environment.

It may not be welcomed by those who visit the countryside to get away from such modern distractions, but visitors to England's national parks should have a better chance of finding a mobile signal thanks to a new agreement between the parks and mobile phone operators.

The new accord has been brokered between National Parks England and the Mobile Operators Association (MOA). The aim of the deal is to greatly improve mobile phone coverage in the parks without damaging their delicate environment through measures such as mast sharing.

The MOA represents the four major mobile phone operators — EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone — on planning issues associated with the use of mobile phone technology.

English National Parks covers approximately 10 percent of England and, according to the MOA, there are now more than 82.7 million mobile phone subscriptions in the UK.

There are compelling social and economic reasons for having good mobile connectivity, including high-speed data networks, in rural areas said John Cooke, executive director of the MOA, who said the benefits are even greater to rural communities, because such connectivity mitigates the disadvantages of greater physical distances and poor transport links.

The phone operators have worked with National Parks England to "ensure that the benefits of mobile connectivity reach communities in these beautiful parts of our country", Cooke said.

The National Park Officer for Exmoor, Dr Nigel Stone, said: "Increasingly, the cost of deployment and operation of new mobile phone masts has been the most significant barrier to wider coverage as we have worked together to enable careful siting and design of new installations. We welcome interest from mobile operators in extending their networks to the benefit of local communities and visitors to national parks."

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