Telecoms operators reject network sharing plans

Out-Law News | 09 Sep 2014 | 10:44 am |

Mobile network operators have rejected UK government plans to let rival providers make use of their networks to provide better coverage to customers, according to a report in the media.

The Financial Times reported that the UK government's intention to facilitate 'national roaming' for voice calls have been dismissed as unworkable by mobile network providers. One source told the paper that "legal and technical" issues mean the scheme would not work as the government has envisaged.

Earlier this summer it emerged that culture secretary Sajid Javid was pushing mobile operators to facilitate 'national roaming' so mobile users can access services across alternative networks where their own network's coverage is lacking. It followed reports that prime minister David Cameron had been affected by patchy mobile phone signal when on holiday in Cornwall.

The Mobile Operators Association (MOA), which represents EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone, previously told Out-Law.com that the companies are investing £3 billion each year in improving their networks and that mobile network coverage now reaches 99% of the UK population. It said mobile broadband coverage would also improve in rural areas as 4G technology is rolled out.

However, the MOA said that "national roaming isn’t the silver bullet that is being suggested".

"It will take years to implement and will not address the problem of ‘not spots’," the MOA said at the time. "National roaming would be a disincentive to build more infrastructure. And it is technically difficult and expensive to set up national roaming and customers would face more dropped calls."