More than 40% of homes and businesses in Hartlepool do not have full 4G coverage, according to Ofcom.
Figures from the communications regulator’s Connected Nations report show that in January 2018, 43% of premises in the area did not have reliable 4G coverage from all four mobile phone networks. Last year, that figure was 53%.
Campaigners have said that it is essential for consumers to get access to 4G from all four networks, so they do not have to suffer localised monopolies.
The County Land and Business Association is calling on the Government to introduce legally binding targets to force the mobile phone networks to extend 4G coverage.
It said that mobile phone operators were letting rural areas become “a digital wilderness”.
CLA senior economic adviser, Dr Charles Trotman, said: “State of the art coverage will improve productivity of businesses and make them far more profitable.”
Dr Trotman explained that the CLA’s aim is to push for comprehensive and reliable 4G coverage from all four major mobile networks – EE, 3, Virgin and O2.
“Our objective is universal coverage,” he said. “But everything is predicated on the operators themselves to put the infrastructure in place.”
Ofcom has proposed introducing obligations that require networks to deliver better quality indoor coverage.
An Ofcom spokesman said: “We agree mobile coverage must improve, particularly in rural communities, and we’re working with the Government and the industry to support this.”
Ofcom’s report also measures coverage by geographical area, for someone using their phone outside.
The figures show that more than 90% of the total area of Hartlepool is covered by all four 4G networks.
A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “The mobile companies now need to act fast on these reforms and deliver better coverage across the UK, particularly in rural areas.”
A spokesman from Mobile UK, which represents the four mobile networks, said: “We need the active co-operation of landowners to provide operators with suitable, cost-effective sites.”