back to article Rural mobile coverage: Tweeting twits to join chirping tits in UK's national parks

The Mobile Operators Association has signed an accord with National Parks England to improve coverage over the 10 per cent of the UK which falls under the category of the national parks. Youtube Video The organisations are predictably keen to emphasise that this will be done without compromising any natural beauty. The move …

  1. john loader


    In the Yorkshire Dales National Park are vast no signal areas - dangerous for walkers and Park staff. In villages, where there is a signal, it is usually from only 1 network. Here Vodafone is king and is the only one to work indoors. A village away it is 3. Shared base stations between all networks to save cost essential

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hooray

      > dangerous for walkers and Park staff

      And that's why god invented the satellite phone !

      As a walker if you're straying off the beaten track then you'd be foolish not to own or rent one.

      And if you're park staff, its pure negligence on the part of your employer if they don't provide you with a means to communicate in an emergency.

      1. WraithCadmus
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Hooray

        Always wanted to use a satphone, but they are pricey, even rentals are a lot for a weekend ramble. There's always the text over 999 service, but I wonder do you need to be on your own network for that to transmit?

        I'd consider a satphone if I was going to a definite dead-zone and you're right about park workers needing something more reliable than cellular. Would a radio in the truck be just as good? Or even just a beacon of sorts that sends 'HALP'?

        Icon: Rescue helicopter, colour determined by sponsorship

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hooray

          > but they are pricey, even rentals are a lot for a weekend ramble.


          Unless you call £53 for 7 days or £88 for 15 days rental expensive ?

          1. JLV Silver badge

            Re: Hooray


            >Unless you call £53 for 7 days or £88 for 15 days rental expensive ?

            Again, one of the cases where a commentard seems to think his needs and wants should be the needs and wants of all other commentards. Unusual, that ;-)

            Yes, I would call 7.50 quid a day expensive, if you frequently go hiking.

            I live in Vancouver, we are right next to very quickly accessible, but also extremely rugged terrain. Some of it has cellphone reception, most of it does not.

            It's not uncommon for us to decide on the spur of the moment to do some trail or other on which we would benefit from having an emergency system. What to do then? Rent a sat phone? Can't - too short notice. And expensive. Buy one permanently? No - it is too expensive.

            Now, if I were going up for a week or two in the brush, in an area generally not frequented by many people, then, yes, I would probably get a sat phone. If I were a multimillionaire or if I went out into the deep back country frequently then maybe. But I am just a fairly advanced recreational hiker. Sat phones are not a fit 90% of my time.

            p.s. one thing I will agree on in this debate. It's nice that your parks are getting coverage. But don't rely overmuch on a cellphone. They may save your behind, sometime. But they are not foolproof in rugged terrain. For example, one local guy died of exposure 3 years ago because they could not pinpoint his position before his batteries died, after they got his call.

            Map, compass, leaving an itinerary and expected return with a buddy. Common sense, esp re sunset in winter.

      2. Tsunamijuan

        Re: Hooray

        I frequently go into areas that have little to no cellphone coverage for photography. I am with you on the satellite phone front. They are well worth it in situations like this, and are generally more rugged than a cellphone for rough climates. I have yet to need to use it, but when your several hundred miles from the nearest person and there is a possibility of a break down or health problems, its a good idea to have one.

        But then again this fall inline with actually planning stuff out and not going out on a whim on a day trip and getting lost. Cause you didn't bother with a map.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge

          Re: Hooray

          Unless you call £53 for 7 days or £88 for 15 days rental expensive ?

          For the UK - yes. Granted people sometimes get into difficulty in really bad weather on the top of what we like to call mountains(*). But suggesting people should take a sat phone when they go walking around our national parks is a bit silly. The biggest communication problem we face on our small island when out enjoying the scenery is trying to get away from twitters, texters, talkers and the beeping noises that accompany them.

          Now if you actually live in a remote(**) area it can be a bit of a pain but then you'll be making more use of it so investing in a proper installation might make sense.

          but when your several hundred miles from the nearest person

          Extremely difficult to achieve in the UK. In fact about the only way to do is it go and sit on a small rocky outcrop in the north Atlantic ;)

          (*)The rest of the world call them 'rocky hills' :)

          (**)Again, our definition of 'remote' is not the same as in most parts of the world.

      3. Refugee from Windows

        Re: Hooray

        As one who was sat on a lonely moorland road with a relay providing a communications link for "large sporting event" recently, where even Mountain Rescue were using a sat phone data uplink, I can say that coverage in the Dales is somewhat "undewearish".

        Do you know how much those sat phones cost to actually use? When you've a sudden inrush of spectators then the cells quickly fall over anyway, they're not able to cope. Oh well, but even if every village has full coverage there will still be blank spots in valleys, round the back of hills etc. VHF radio in your National Park vehicle works a lot better than the phone.

        I doubt however if the backhaul could cope. A well know national communication company's recent "upgrades" spectactularly underperformed, and the all singing all dancing radio system hired in didn't talk between centres, so the backup deployed was ticking over all day.

        Nuff said, I'm off, and that is a VHF handheld radio in the pocket.

        1. JLV Silver badge

          Re: Hooray

          Agreed on the cost. And, like said, it requires planning and you will not be carrying one on a casual day trip, most likely.

          My alternative kit is a GPS emergency beacon. It is a one time use device, cigarette pack sized. Got mine for $150, no subscription fees. Batteries are good for 5 years, are replaceable and there is a test switch.

          If you need help, you yank out a wire, which triggers it. It bounces a signal to military search and rescue sats and the gps keeps on pinging your location. The company who makes the beacon then notifies appropriate authorities, potentially on the other side of the world.

          Other models have subscription fees and can send rudimentary sms, but I fail to see the need. One drawback is it doesn't float, but there is a eyelet on which you could thread a cord attached to a float.

          As it doesn't cost anything you can even loan it out to friends when they go out somewhere remote.

          re. taking maps on a hike, there are a number of no-network-required apps available for smartphones. Not all of them are very good at trails/topo, as opposed to road usage, but they should at least give you a rough idea of where you are. I wouldn't rely on them for a multi-day remote camping trip, but they are much better than nothing on a casual hike. iOS: PocketEarth, Android: OSMAnd.

          p.p.s. If anyone can recommend a really good topo app on iOS, Android, I'd be grateful.

          1. david bates

            Re: Hooray

            BackCountry Naivgator gives you access (For £7.00 ish one off) to the whole of the OS catalog via Multimap. Tracks you via GPS, and you can download huge swathes of map in multiple magnifications for off-line use. Plus it does all the usual distance, speed, elevation stuff.

            Its one downside is (when connected) it uses Google Maps to find places, so it wont necessarily be able to find something that is marked on the map.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hooray

          > Do you know how much those sat phones cost to actually use?

          OH FOR HEAVENS SAKE ! GRRRRR!! ;-(

          If all you muppets above who are banging on like a tightwad about the cost bothered to read the OP's post as well as my reply you would have noted....

          He/She/It said ....

          "dangerous for walkers and Park staff"

          And I replied in that context.... i.e. having a satellite phone available for emergencies.

          I don't know about you, but I DON'T GIVE A TOSS ABOUT THE COST OF A CALL WHEN ITS AN EMERGENCY !

  2. Havin_it


    Someone is producing, or possibly dancing to, inaccessible thumping mid-90s Dutch techno music behind me on the hiking trail?

    Not again!

    1. JudeKay

      Re: Gabbering?

      I like your style, Havin_it -

  3. Stratman




    *Other homeopathic 'coffees' are available

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Oh, great...

    Yes!!! I have to speak VERY LOUDLY!! Yeah! There's this damned waterfall here and a bunch of birds are singing!! You'd think they'd be quiet during a staff meeting!! Now what's that about next quarters budget!!!??

  5. Buzzword

    There are more important places to cover first!

    I'd like to see decent coverage on the railway network first, before worrying about national parks. If I could surf the web and comment on Reg articles on the train, then I wouldn't need to do it at work, and my productivity would increase. It's good for the economy, apparently.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There are more important places to cover first!

      Large sections of motorways and A roads also have no coverage. I'm fairly sure the users of those wouldn't complain about phone masts spoiling the view, and it's not as if there weren't any large structures already built all along them...

      One of the joys of being out in the National Parks (there's one a few miles from here) is the peace and quiet and lack of phones ringing and idiots blathering on them.

  6. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Heaven help you

    Rock Creek Park is a national park in the middle of Washington, DC. Years ago there was bickering about coverage for cell phones, and think of the emergencies, and what if in a dead spot, etc. The upshot is that persons wander the bike and hiking trails, talking away on their cell phones. It all may have to do with emergencies; if so, they seem very calm.

    And presently you will encounter what they already do in the American West: meatheads who get themselves lost, or merely footsore or otherwise fatigued, and call in for a rescue.

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