British government to launch legislation for improved mobile coverage
Capacity Europe day 3 – The British government has today launched a consultation on new legislation, designed to force mobile operators to provide better coverage across the UK.
UK cultural secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement: “This consultation will complement the work industry is doing and allow the government to hear from the wider telecoms sector, businesses and the public.”
A report in August this year found that a third of UK mobile users experience coverage problems every week, and one of four options being considered to eliminate this poor coverage, is the implementation of a national roaming plan.
The proposed plan would mean subscribers could switch between operators depending on signal strength, but this has come up against resistance from a number of UK operators.
“[National roaming] would be technically far more complex, slow to implement and would cause serious problems with network resilience,” Vodafone said in a statement.
EE, the country’s largest mobile operator, reiterated this and said that it would deteriorate network reliability and could lead to price rises.
Sven Boddington, VP of client solutions at Teleplan, has also raised concerns: “Whilst allowing better roaming may provide a short term solution, it may also cause pressure on radio base technology in low coverage areas which become unable to cope with the load.”
Other options include infrastructure sharing, allowing mobile networks to put transmitters on each other’s masts and obliging the networks to cover a certain percentage of the UK.
The consultation is due to close on November 26, but some believe this is not enough time to address the situation thoroughly.
“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,” said Antony Walker, deputy CEO at techUK.
“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.”