UK government's 'National Roaming' plan shot down by mobile networks

A government proposal which would have given smartphone users the ability to piggyback other mobile networks in areas of low coverage was rejected by telecoms groups earlier this week.

The ‘National Roaming’ scheme was proposed by UK culture secretary Sajid Javid in a bid to improve mobile networks before the 2015 UK general election, but it has been widely rejected by network providers.

The doomed initiative would have allowed consumers to access any UK network to make voice calls in areas where their personal mobile carrier’s coverage failed – vastly increasing the nation’s rural service.

A letter from a collective of leading mobile network executives claimed that the plan could not be implemented within the timeframe given. It also added that the companies found the scheme undesirable.

Instead, the statement said that network providers were willing to work with the government to fill out the service non-spots.

Ed Vaizey, the digital economy minister who works on the scheme, told the Financial Times: “We are investing up to £150m to improve mobile coverage in areas where there is currently no coverage from any of the mobile network operators through the Mobile Infrastructure Project.

“There are also areas of the UK that have coverage from some MNOs but not all of them. We’re looking closely at ways to improve mobile coverage in these areas, including national roaming.”

Prime minister David Cameron last month reported a win on the mobile front after EE announced that it had extended its coverage to over 70 per cent of the UK population.



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