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Hampstead's phone signal blackspot is costing businesses money

PUBLISHED: 16:14 08 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:14 08 August 2019

People using their phones in Hampstead. Picture: Adrian Zorzut

People using their phones in Hampstead. Picture: Adrian Zorzut

Archant

Mobile phone signal in Hampstead's notorious blackspot is costing businesses revenue and frustrating the community.

A man, who agreed to be pictured, attempts to get signal in Hampstead. Picture: Adrian ZorzutA man, who agreed to be pictured, attempts to get signal in Hampstead. Picture: Adrian Zorzut

Traders along Hampstead High Street have complained the poor reception is losing them customers.

Aimée Richard, 26, a store supervisor at clothing store ba&sh, said customers are rushing out of the store in search of the nearest Pay & Display bay as they are unable to access the online payment app.

She said: "If they can't pay, they just move their car and go to another place in London maybe."

She added customers cannot even upload images of clothing they want to purchase on their phones in store.

Staff members Patronella Achieng and Aimee Richard in ba&sh. Picture: Adrian ZorzutStaff members Patronella Achieng and Aimee Richard in ba&sh. Picture: Adrian Zorzut

The Holly Bush pub's deputy manager Ishak Bougobba said signal around Holly Hill was a "disaster", ranking it the worst he has encountered in his ten years living in London.

He said: "I don't understand how much an expensive area of London can have such a bad network."

The problem has become so bad that staff are sometimes forced to call people back when they try and book a table. Everyone in the pub also relies on the WiFi, but it becomes so busy at weekends staff constantly have to restart it.

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Three and Vodafone have told the Ham&High they are working to upgrade existing sites and build new ones. O2's parent company, Telefónica, said it had difficulty finding somewhere to install a mast.

"For several years we have been working hard to improve mobile coverage for our customers in Hampstead," a spokesperson said. "Sadly, we have struggled to find willing landlords to host a new mobile cellsite or get the necessary planning permission."

Snappy Snaps franchisee Jun Mustafa said the blackspot had been around since he took over the shop 15 years ago. He noted several of his staff had to change providers from Three because they had no signal in store.

An Ofcom map of indoor mobile availability shows EE, o2, Three, and Vodafone fail to provide strong coverage across sections of Belsize, Gospel Oak, Frognal & Fitzjohns, Hampstead Town, and Highgate wards.

Three customers have a "possible chance" of reception between Rosslyn Hill and Heath Street and East and South Heath roads while Vodafone and EE users will be lucky to have a decent signal around Hampstead High St and Fitzjohn's Avenue.

Telecommunication business owner Saleh Saleh said signal in Hampstead was worse than in Dubai.

Retirees Klementina and Zoran Gjorgievska travel from North Macedonia every two months to visit their daughter.

Their overseas provider automatically links them with the Vodafone network, which they said is always poor.

Klementina said: "You know, we expect everytime when we come that it will be better, but it's still the same."

Hampstead Village Business Improvement District (BID) recently spent £8,000 to hire a local ambassador to guide visitors arriving at Hampstead tube station over the coming three months.

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