The UK Government has unveiled a set of proposed legislative changes to ‘eliminate poor mobile coverage’, with its suggestions sure to upset the UK’s major network operators.
The Government launched a consultation on a variety of proposals designed to combat so-called partial not-spots; areas where a mobile user’s service depends on their choice of network.
The issue is one hotly contested by many of the major networks who argue that differences in service are an essential part of differentiating themselves from the competition. EE went as far to describe one of the proposed options; ‘national roaming’, where users roam onto other networks when they need signal, as a ‘flawed concept’.
Other proposals in the consultation include; ‘Infrastructure sharing’; allowing network’s to put transmitters on each others masts. ‘Coverage obligation’; forcing operators to cover a certain percentage of the UK. As well as a plan to reform virtual networks; permitting MVNOs to sell packages across all networks rather than being limited to one.
Culture secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘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 Government said that talks have been held with the mobile companies in recent months in an attempt to find a voluntary solution and this work by the industry is expected to continue whilst the consultation runs.
However, an industry source has told Mobile that during the consultation process there was a lack of clarity from the Government over the issue of 'national roaming' with a number of alternative suggestions being to the proposal being ignored.
As revealed by Mobile in October, the Government's attempts to combat the UK's 'not spots' (areas with no signal) has been less than impressive with the project requiring a signficant deadline extention and only two sites being completed before the intial cut off.