Prime minister David Cameron has acknowledged that the government must tackle mobile 'notspots', admitting that he finds it a major problem when trying to conduct world affairs while on holiday in Cornwall.
Cameron told the Western Morning News he often has to deal with a lack of mobile coverage first hand, and admitted it's not good enough to leave people cut off from mobile services.
“This is a really big issue for people all over the country – the ‘not-spots’,” he told the paper. “It’s not good enough to say here’s the mobile coverage for the whole country.
"You have got to recognise a lot of people are making important calls while they are on the move. We do need to improve the coverage of the mobile phone signal.”
The comments come amid reports that the government is considering forcing mobile operators to share signal coverage in remote regions where mobile signal is patchy or non-existent to try and end the problem of mobile ‘notspots’.
The move would likely mean if one of the big four operators – Three, EE, O2 or Vodafone – does provide coverage in a remote area, customers on other networks where service is not available would roam to that network.
The BBC reported that a mobile industry source had informed them of the plans, adding that there is existing legislation that could allow the government to force operators into this situation.
A statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “Of course we want to look at what more can be done in areas with poor coverage."
The plans could well complement the government’s £150m Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP), which was set up to identify areas where phone signal is lacking and help operators build coverage.
Initial research by network firm Arqiva found 1,000 locations to be lacking coverage, in areas ranging from Cornwall, Northumberland, and Yorkshire, to large swathes of Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
But despite this £150m funding the government has already admitted this will not solve the issue entirely. As such forcing operators to allow other customers onto their networks in any remaining notspot areas could help improve the situation further.
Earlier this week EE announced it would use its My EE app to send back data on locations where signal drops out, while all UK operators regularly tout ongoing investments to boost network coverage and quality.
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