Network-Planted Trees May Be the Cause of Crappy Phone Signal

By Gerald Lynch on at

Standing on a chair or holding your phone above your head to try to improve dire mobile signal is a waste of time -- for some signal blackspot sufferers, they'd be better off going out and buying a chainsaw. That's because tall trees could be the...ahem...root of many mobile network signalling problems.

A survey run by EE has found that as many as 10,000 of Britain's 36,000 mobile masts are struggling to transmit a strong signal as they're being overwhelmed by surrounding tree lines. Ironically, in many cases it was the networks themselves that planted the trees back in the nineties, as a way to appease those who felt that mobile masts were an eyesore. Now more than a decade on, the trees stand tall enough to interfere with the masts, and the networks are not allowed to chop them down.

“Since these mobile sites were put up in the Nineties, the trees around them have grown to full height," said Andy Sutton, EE’s principal network architect.

“No amount of watering has helped the towers grow, and there’s a real risk that people in the surrounding area will be getting a worse mobile signal now than they were back in the Nineties. The industry needs to be able to make these towers taller.”

One possible solution would be for the government to relax legislation limiting the height of network masts. Support would come from the Countryside Alliance, campaigning for better rural mobile support, though this is likely to face local constituency opposition despite rural coverage pledges. Making mast sites cheaper to lease could lead to increased mast numbers as an alternative, improving coverage too. However, existing masts could not have their height altered, meaning those blighted by towering trees might have to axe their network operators, or the trunks themselves. [Telegraph]