The Mobile Operators Association, in conjunction with National Parks England, has developed a plan to increase the amount of mobile signal in Britain’s beautiful National Parks, bringing phone coverage and mobile broadband to those areas, all while minimising the environmental impact of the equipment needed to deliver this coverage.
The UK has some truly stunning National Parks. From the North Yorkshire Moors, to the Lake District, to Snowdonia, Britain boasts amazing reminders of the majesty and wonder of nature. However, they also serve as a reminder of the fact that while phones like the HTC One M8 are superb, they don’t quite work everywhere, just yet.
However, the ‘yet’ in that sentence is the operative word, because according to the Mobile Operators Association, a new plan is being put into effect. It’s a plan that aims to get the UK’s National Park connected to the network, giving visitors and residents plenty of mobile signal, but in ways that do not take away from the natural beauty that makes these places so special.
With National Parks covering 10% of the country, this is actually a rather necessary thing to do, and it’s not just so that city-folk (like, let’s be honest, this author) will be able to use their LG G3, or their Samsung Galaxy S5, or whatever phone they happen to be using. A lot of people live in National Parks, and there are also a lot of small (and some not-so-small) businesses operating within them; since almost nine out of ten small businesses say that a mobile phone is important to their business, good coverage is absolutely essential.
And all of that is before we note that access to emergency services is made vastly easier by having better mobile signal, something which is about as essential as it gets!
This is aptly summarised by the Executive Director for the Mobile Operators Association, John Cooke:
“There are compelling social and economic reasons for having good mobile connectivity, including mobile broadband, in rural areas; the benefits are even greater to rural communities, 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.”
So, basically, increased mobile signal in National Parks is a very good thing indeed. However, that quote raises another question: how will the mobile networks go about ensuring it happens while, at the same time, ensuring the environmental impact of any new development is minimal?
The accord itself speak of things like “mast-sharing, site-sharing, and any other technical advances”, which would vastly increase the connectivity of National Parks whilst minimising the deployment of things that aren’t trees and/or badgers.
Of course, it’s also true that mobile phone masts don’t actually need to look like mobile phone masts, nowadays. There are pictures all round the net of phone masts being disguised as things like fir trees and cactuses (both of which are easy to find through Google), so masts can also be deployed that, well, don’t look like masts, instead looking like just another tree.
And so, while anyone who has been to (or lives in) one of our National Parks will know how it feels to not have ant signal on their phones, we’ll soon get to the point where that is never a problem again, but we’ll get there in a way that does not ruin our countryside. In other words, this is quite simply a brilliant thing all round!