The UK’s four mobile network operators have finalised the Government’s deal to deliver improved mobile coverage for consumers across the UK. As part of the Government's long-term economic plan, the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has secured legal requirements from the four mobile networks to tackle poor signal issues in so-called ‘partial not-spots’. These are areas within the UK that have coverage from some but not all of the four mobile networks. Depending on the network consumers are on, they may have no coverage in these areas.
The mobile networks, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have now made the deal legally binding by accepting amended licence conditions to reflect the agreement. This means that for the first time, Ofcom will be able to enforce a consistent signal strength requirement from each of the mobile network operators across the whole area they service, with obvious benefits for consumers.
“For far too long, too many parts of the UK have regularly suffered from poor mobile coverage, leaving them unable to make calls or send texts,” said Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid. “Now at last we have progress that will give the UK the world-class mobile phone coverage it needs and deserves. The deal will also bring £5bn investment by the mobile networks into the UK’s infrastructure, which will help drive this Government’s long-term economic plan.”
Under the agreement, all four of the UK’s mobile networks have collectively agreed to £5bn worth of investment to improve mobile infrastructure by 2017; guaranteed voice and text coverage across 90 per cent of the UK geographic area by 2017, halving the areas currently blighted by patchy coverage as a result of partial ‘not-spots’; full coverage from all four mobile operators to increase from 69 per cent to 85 per cent of geographic areas by 2017; and a commitment to provide reliable signal strength for voice for each type of mobile service (2G/3G/4G).
The agreement will cut the number of total ‘not-spots’ where there is currently no mobile coverage, by two-thirds. This will support the Government’s existing £150m programme to take mobile coverage to the areas of the UK that have no coverage at all. Many parts of the UK will also benefit from better data coverage, some for the first time.