Keeping everyone connected
The Covid-19 pandemic has made us all more reliant on phone networks and internet services to keep in touch, which is why they are designated as ‘critical’ services by the Government.
The UK’s major mobile and internet service providers have responded to this by offering a range of support for all their customers, including concessions for NHS frontline workers, the most vulnerable and people in financial hardship due to the Covid-19 situation.
Connecting Cambridgeshire, the digital connectivity programme led by Cambridgeshire County Council, is working with telecoms operators to improve broadband and mobile coverage across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and has put together a quick guide to help available from the networks.
Help for everyone to stay connected:
All phone users can get free access to all NHS UK online websites with data allowances unaffected, and free calls to NHS 111 and the Non-Emergency 101 service to the Police
- NHS frontline staff, who are existing customers, can get mobile data access, voice calls and texts at no extra cost when using their personal mobiles for work
- Vulnerable patients can get generous data allowances to use their mobile phones for video consultations with doctors and health staff
- People finding it difficult to pay their phone bill as a result of Covid-19 can get support if they inform their provider
- Vulnerable people can get generous mobile and landline packages to ensure they remain connected, including data boosts at low prices and free calls from their landline or mobile, whether on contract or ‘pay as you go’.
- All providers will remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.
- Vulnerable customers or those self-isolating will receive alternative methods of communication where possible if priority repairs to fixed broadband and landlines cannot be carried out
Mobile coverage for voice and data (2G and 4G services) is below the England average in all areas of the county except the main cities* causing widespread concern amongst businesses and communities across the region.
*Ofcom Connected Nations Report
The Connecting Cambridgeshire programme aims to improve network coverage so that people can make reliable mobile phone calls and use 4G across the whole geography of the county, including A and B roads, and rail services by 2022.
Mobile Phone Coverage Survey Work
Cambridgeshire County Council has commissioned technical mobile phone coverage surveys in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area to inform the work of the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme.
The first survey in February and March 2019 involved an external company drive testing and walk testing to scan mobile coverage at a range of locations, including A, B and C roads across the county, tourist attractions, parks, rail routes, etc.
Data from the survey cross-referenced with existing Ofcom data has been used to drawn up a list of priority locations including residential areas, business/research parks, roads, and stations. The list exemplifies a wide range of coverage issues and has been shared with mobile network operators, who are working with our Enabling Digital Delivery team to proactively find solutions.
Further survey work is currently being commissioned and will be used to highlight ‘partial notspots’, which could benefit from the Government’s new Shared Rural Network programme.
The UK’s major mobile and internet service providers have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering a range of support for all their customers, including concessions for NHS frontline workers, the most vulnerable and people in financial hardship.
Mobile UK has put together some information to explain some of the actions the industry is taking, information on how to get into contact with each mobile operator, and some additional useful advice that may be helpful on their website.