The UK government plans to introduce a national roaming law this week, allowing customers to switch to a rival network if they find themselves in a mobile 'notspot.'
The Sunday Telegraph (paywalled) reports that culture secretary Sajid Javid will announce plans for national roaming later this week, given that mobile operators have failed to come up with a plan of their own on how to put an end to signal notspots.
Under the proposed plans, the big four mobile operators - O2, EE, Three and Vodafone - will be forced to share mobile phone masts in rural areas where there is poor coverage so customers' phones can find the strongest signal.
The newspaper quoted a senior Whitehall official, who said that the proposed law would be published as part of a public consultation document expected to land this week.
The unnamed source said: "We're keen on a national roaming plan. We’ve talked to the mobile phone networks and told them to come up with a plan. The secretary of state is pretty frustrated that they have failed to do so.
"We’ve given them numerous opportunities to find a solution. The lack of movement from the mobile phone operators means we now need a legislative option to deal with the issue of partial notspots.”
This news unlikely will go down well with the operators', which previously rejected plans to introduce network-sharing when Javid proposed it as a solution to end poor coverage earlier this year.
"National roaming isn't the silver bullet that is being suggested," it said in a statement sent to V3.
"It will take years to implement and will not address the problem of notspots. 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."
Despite Javid's claims that visitors from France to the UK benefit from better coverage than those who live here, the MOA added that phone users in Britain are among the best off across Europe.
"There is good mobile coverage across the UK, reaching 99 percent of the population. And UK consumers enjoy one of the cheapest telecoms pricing environments in the EU. Operators are investing £3bn in improving their UK networks this year."
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