MPs ask for mobile network roaming in patchy coverage areas

A group of 90 MPs have urged the government to change the rules to allow mobile phone users switch between networks when they don't receive adequate signal.

Mobile network operators feel such a move will not bring in adequate funds for them to invest in new towers and services.

While mobile broadband coverage in the UK is on the rise, it isn't happening quickly enough and the government's initial target of covering 90% of the country's land area by next year may not fructify. Recognising that the delay forces mobile phone users to remain stuck with their providers even when they don't receive adequate signal, The British Infrastructure Group, a conglomerate of 90 MPs, has called on the government to make new changes to allow phone users to switch between networks while roaming so that they can stay connected at all times.

EE promises to cover all of UK with 4G services by 2020

As of now, switching between networks when on domestic roaming isn't possible. Instead of sharing their networks, operators believe they can solve such issues by investing heavily on their own networks and cover the entire country's land area within the next decade with superfast 4G networks. Leading network operator EE is presently pouring in huge investments offer super fast 4G coverage to 99.8 per cent of the population in the next four years. Using BT's fibre broadband links, EE switched on its 4G services in distant regions like Shetland and the Isles of Scilly which are almost 1,000 miles apart. EE has also enabled Voice over LTE in cities like London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Leeds and Newcastle and is building 750 new sites across the country to plug 'not-spots' in areas where 4G services are already active.

However, in rural areas, 4G network coverage is in stark contract to that in major cities and the focus of the group of MPs in in correcting that in the short term. They believe changing laws to enable network switching on domestic roaming will solve the issue until individual operators sort out gaps in their coverage. "It is unacceptable that areas in Britain continue to have such poor mobile connectivity, and that overseas visitors can expect better mobile coverage than Britons stuck with a single provider. The time for excuses from the mobile sector is over. The government must make a better call for Britain and bring national mobile coverage policy into the 21st Century," said Grant Shapps, chairman of the British Infrastructure group.

No 4G half the time you travel across the UK!

"It is usually rural areas that suffer not-spots and having no signal on your phone is not just inconvenient but also dangerous in some instances when connectivity is essential. MPs asking for networks to share connectivity in these areas is not unreasonable but could be very difficult to implement. 
However, if they are able to pull it off, it would be one of the biggest wins for consumers with regards to mobile phone network since the free European roaming announcement in the spring," said Sunetra Chakravarti, Editor at Mobile Choice UK.

It will be interesting to note in the coming days if the group of MPs will be able to convince the government to implement swift changes in laws to suit customers in rural areas and those who travel frequently to such places. In the meantime, network operators aren't too keen on seeing such new laws implemented as that may affect their profitability, and in turn, their investments.

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