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MPs plan to tackle UK mobile phone signal “not-spots”

Wed 5 Nov 2014

The UK government has announced today that it will enter into discussions with major network providers in an attempt to boost rural mobile coverage.

A fifth of Britain’s population are currently affected by poor mobile phone reception, where there is minimal coverage from some, but not all, of the UK’s main mobile networks.

Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid has launched a consultation period in which government and leading telecom groups will discuss four legislative strategies surrounding national roaming plans, infrastructure sharing, coverage obligations, and reforming virtual networks.

“I’m determined to ensure the UK has world class mobile phone coverage as investment in infrastructure will help drive this government’s long-term economic plan,” said Javid.

Javid has reportedly met with EE, O2, Vodafone and Three to talk over voluntary solutions to the issue. Although it seems nothing has yet been agreed, discussions will continue until November 26th when the consultation period closes.

“We fully support Government on the joint ambition to improve rural coverage,” said an EE spokesperson.

“We’re keenly aware that there are some parts of the UK where customers still can’t get adequate signal levels and, while we’re already working on some significant nationwide coverage improvement plans, we also need Government to work more closely with the industry to remove the barriers to efficiently building more signal in more places,” EE added.

Despite an agreed goal of tackling mobile “not-spots,” the telecom industry are generally unhappy with the idea of sharing infrastructure to allow mobile phone users to roam between networks.

“What we don’t want to do is implement the flawed concept of ‘national roaming’ […] This will deteriorate network reliability for tens of millions across the UK, plus it also risks prices rising, which customers understandably won’t tolerate,” argued EE.

Rural coverage challenges were originally brought to the attention of cabinet following Prime Minister David Cameron’s trip to Oxfordshire last Christmas where a call to President Barack Obama dropped out on Vodafone’s network.


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