UK is missing its mobile coverage targets and should allow roaming, MPs say

Mobile operators are failing to live up to coverage targets pledged in 2014 and as a result should allow for users to roam within the UK, a cross-party report has proposed by MPs said today.

The report (PDF), produced by the British Infrastructure Group (BIG), one-third of UK homes have “poor or no reception,” which equates to around 17 million people. That’s not the same, however, as saying that one-third of the UK has no coverage at all; it instead represents customers that cannot access their own provider in their own home.

In some cases, a simple solution would be to change provider but this isn’t always practical for users and often comes with an accompanied penalty cost if still within contract terms. BIG says that another potential answer to the problem is to allow users to roam across different networks within the UK, but operators are resistant.

It lays these ongoing problems of ‘not-spots’ at the failing of operators to live up to agreements made in 2014 to eliminate them wherever possible through infrastructure upgrades, and while the deadline isn’t until the end of next year, BIG says that it’s “highly unlikely” its goals will be met.

“There is much left to be done by the mobile communications sector to improvemobile infrastructure and increase the extent of coverage in the UK,” BIG said. “The referenceto an increase in mobile data coverage as an ‘ancillary benefit’ of this investmentagreement rescinds the responsibility of mobile operators for actually making atangible improvement to mobile coverage across the country.”

However, the UK’s mobile trade assosciation Mobile UK told the BBC that allowing customers to roam between networks would de-incentivize all providers to continue making infrastructure investments.

Related: EU Roaming Charges: Using your phone abroad is cheaper (for now)

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Do you suffer from poor signal at home? Would you like to be allowed to roam between networks within the UK? Let us know in the comments below!

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