As the Government reveals controversial proposals to tackle poor mobile coverage Mobile takes a look at what the proposed changes mean for the industry….
Share and share alike
All four of the Governments proposed legislative changes are likely to irk the major network operators. Only one suggestion; ‘coverage obligation’ doesn’t involve them having to ‘share’ coverage in some way. If brought to pass ‘signal sharing’ would eradicate a major part of network differentiation for consumers, whether or not that is a good thing is open for debate. EE argues that ‘national roaming’ risks prices rising. But the counter argument is that with only price and customer service as the key differentiators operators would be forced to improve both. Although, the fact that the UK is one of the cheapest mobile markets in the world does raise the question; how much cheaper could it get? Either way, as the Government press ahead with this policy it definitely won’t be the last issue it finds the networks have problems with.
Involvement and influence…
The Government made it very clear in the statement accompanying the announcement; mobile companies had been involved in the initial consultation process. It’s a pretty surprising that all the suggested legislative changes would be so far removed from what the networks might suggest. ‘National roaming’ in particular is an idea that has been batted about quite publically for a while now with the operator’s belief that it would hurt service well known, yet it still topped the list of proposals. The announcement also stated that mobile companies would continue to be involved as the process moved forward. However, judging by this opening gambit, involvement and influence are two very different things.
And the good news?
Whilst there will be many in the mobile industry who are angered by these proposals, there will also be a number who are excited by them. None more so than MVNOs, one of proposed changes was to ‘reform virtual networks’ allowing them to operate across all four major networks, placing MVNOs in an advantageous market position. Other possible beneficiaries include manufacturers who would be able to cut better deals with the operators as there would be less need to cut exclusive deals with ‘biggest’ or ‘most reliable’ networks.