Mobile phone signal has been the only thing that hasn’t been perfect for Nathan and Lizzie Figg since they moved to Nethway Farm in South Devon three years ago.
The holiday cottage business at Kingswear, near Dartmouth, is located in a valley that makes their mobile signal hit and miss.
When they heard about Connecting Devon and Somerset’s Mobile Boost program, they signed up and had a Cel-fi system installed by Digi Home Technology which has made a huge difference to their business.
They are now among 900 homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset to have improved 4G mobile signal in their property thanks to the Mobile Boost scheme.
Nathan said: “We had no signal apart from an intermittent signal half-way up one of the hills, whereas now we have a full 4G signal. Just staying connected was the issue, and in that sense it’s been a very good addition for us and the business.
“We have wi-fi calling throughout our property and the holiday lets so we chose to have the booster installed in one of our barns. We can’t afford to miss any calls, and if a guest, or a potential guest, phones while we’re in the barn now we don’t lose the call or have to rush off. We also use the barn for lambing so if there are any problems, we can now call each other.
“The only cost we had to pay was the labor charge for the installation. From application through to installation it was a very easy process.”
The Mobile Boost scheme, which is being funded through the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s (HotSWLEP) Growth Deal, is upgrading indoor 4G mobile phone coverage in rural areas. The initiative aims to help small businesses and homes that have inadequate coverage, or only have access to one provider and are struggling with connectivity.
Businesses and households in Somerset, Devon, Torbay and Plymouth can apply for a voucher of up to £1,200 towards the cost of a mobile signal booster from a registered supplier. The value of the voucher depends on the type of technology most suitable for the premises.
Three options of equipment are available through the scheme – either a 4G booster or two models of “signal repeaters” which repeat the outdoor signal indoors – and suppliers can advise on the most suitable in each case.
Councilor Rufus Gilbert, CDS Board Member and Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, said:
“It’s great to see that local businesses are being supported through the Mobile Boost Scheme and Nethway Farm Holiday Cottages is a perfect example of that. I’m pleased that Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) has been able to play a part in making their lives, and running their business, that little bit easier.”
Councilor Mike Rigby, CDS Board Member and Somerset County Council Lead Member for Transport and Digital, said: “The Mobile Boost scheme is making a real difference to people’s lives, simply by providing connectivity that people can rely on. A missed phone call can end up costing businesses money so it’s great that 900 businesses and homes in our region are benefiting from this technology.”
Karl Tucker, Chair at the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “It’s fantastic to see even more people benefiting from improved connectivity to make a real difference to people’s lives and work. We are delighted to have helped support over 900 local businesses and homes through the mobile boost scheme, as part of our aim to ensure digital connectivity for all and improved productivity.”
Businesses and residents applying through the scheme need to complete a form self-certifying that they cannot receive an adequate indoor 4G mobile signal. Applicants will be emailed a voucher code which can be used with one of the registered scheme suppliers.
Anyone applying for the scheme will need to make a contribution to cover the cost of installation. Depending on which option is chosen, this ranges from a one-off fee from around £250 to a monthly fee for a SIM card (averaging around £30 a month).
It is down to the applicant to research which of the suppliers can install in their area, contacting the supplier directly to redeem the voucher and arranging to have the equipment installed at their premises.
For a list of registered suppliers and an application form, visit the Mobile Boost pages on the CDS website.