BUSINESSES in Flintshire desperately need good 4G coverage, a senior councillor has said.

According to Ofcom, in January this year 54 per cent of premises in the area did not have reliable 4G coverage from all four mobile phone networks.

The figures show that 78 per cent of the total area of Flintshire is covered by all four 4G networks.

Cllr Derek Butler, cabinet member for economic development at Flintshire Council, said: “We should be getting into 5G now, never mind 4G.

“We’re missing out – we need to be ahead of the game, not chasing behind it.

“Especially with SMEs (small to medium enterprises) we are very vibrant in Flintshire and a lot are in research and development.

“They are desperate to future-proof their businesses and they need this technology.

“It is a national problem and the people who can make a difference don’t seem to be interested. That is the government in many cases.”

Askar Sheibani, managing director and CEO of Comtek Network Systems, and chairman of Deeside Business Forum (DBF), told the Leader: “If you think of the demand for broadband, people are using cloud technology all the time now.

“Everything is becoming digital and in order to be able to deal with that there is only one way and that is fibre optic.

“At the moment the majority of buildings in the UK are connected with copper wiring, which is Victorian.

“In Spain, 85 per cent of buildings are connected by fibre optic, but in the UK it is only 3 per cent.

“We are very behind and this is an urgent situation. Businesses are going to suffer until this is addressed.”

Looking to the future, Mr Sheibani said: “Soon the idea of 4G will be obsolete because 5G is coming and it will be far superior.

“DBF is involved with biding to the UK Government for funding to provide a local full fibre network.

“If we achieve this North Wales could bypass 4G and go straight to 5G.”

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".

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.

"We want mobile companies to extend their networks as a priority, and we've announced plans to make them increase coverage for rural areas as we release more airwaves next year."

A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "We have implemented major changes to planning laws and made it cheaper and easier for the industry to roll out masts.

"But the mobile companies now need to act fast on these reforms and deliver better coverage across the UK, particularly in rural areas."

The Government target is 95 per cent geographic coverage across the UK from at least one network by 2022.