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UK body calls for 'radical improvement' to mobile and broadband services

Tim Maytom

The head of the UK's National Infrastructure Commission has called for urgent action to tackle poor mobile phone coverage after a new study revealed that 30 per cent of the UK landmass could not send texts or make calls on all four mobile networks.

Lord Adonis has written to the telcoms regulator Ofcom, who carried out the study, urging it to take action on the issue, which also found that 1m UK homes have poor broadband access, and large parts of the UK still have no 4G coverage.

Lord Adonis has criticised the UK's mobile and broadband services in the past, having singled out mobile operators in October when he launched a public consultation in the general state of UK infrastructure. Now, he has called for Ofcom and the government to "put all options on the table" to deal with coverage black spots, including possible legal and regulatory changes.

"In an age when when access to a mobile signal is regarded as a must-have, it is deplorable that even in areas previously considered to have strong coverage, operators are still delivering such poor services that customers can struggle to make a quick phone call," said Lord Adonis.

"It demonstrates the need for urgent and radical action to tackle this issue immediately, ahead of new mobile spectrum being auctioned and 5G technology being rolled out."

Matt Hancock, minister for digital, agreed with Lord Adonis' assessment, saying that there was a "clear need" for rapid improvements to mobile coverage.

"We've recently removed outdated restictions, giving mobile operators more freedom to improve their networks including hard-to-reach rural areas," said Hancock. "But the industry needs to play its part too through continued investment and improvement in their networks, making sure that customers are not paying for services they don't receive."