Government Plans to Improve UK Network Coverage Could Include National Roaming

4G Transmitter Antenna Broadcast TowerThe UK Government has set out its plans to eliminate the poor mobile coverage which in some areas of the country.

These partial not-spots, which have coverage from some but not all of the four mobile networks, apparently make up a fifth of the UK.

Following talks with the operators in an attempt to find a voluntary solutions to this problem, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has launched a consultation on the various legislative proposals to improve coverage across the board.

These include national roaming, allowing phones to use another network’s signal where their own isnt available; infrastructure sharing, enabling networks to put transmitters on each others masts; working with virtual network operators to give their subscribers access to all four networks; or simply requiring all networks to cover a certain percentage of the UK.

“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. “It can’t be right that in a fifth of the UK, people cannot use their phones to make a call. The Government isn’t prepared to let that situation continue.”

The consultation closes on 26th November.

Not all of the suggestions being examined in the consultation are proving popular with operators. Antony Walker, deputy CEO of industry body TechUK believes national roaming in particular could cause difficulties.

“As Ofcom CEO Ed Richards explained to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, national roaming could ‘disincentivise’ infrastructure investment and competition as well as have technical consequences, leading to a worse overall customer experience,” he says.

“Extending the reach and quality of mobile services is a vital goal but it’s paramount that an in-depth and detailed consultation with industry takes place, ensuring investment infrastructure and competition is balanced with the needs and experience of the consumer. A three week consultation process is too short to fully consider all the options and implications of such an important issue with such long term consequence .“