The UK government is considering legislative options that will enhance and improve coverage provided by mobile network providers.
Part of the long-term economic plan is to eliminate this poor coverage, which Culture Secretary Sajid Javid says many UK citizens regularly suffer from.
Javid claims to be determined to improve coverage from all four networks and has launched a consultation on legislative proposals to help achieve this.
Talks have been held with the mobile providers to discuss a voluntary solution and work by the industry is expected to continue throughout the duration of the consultation.
“I’m determined to ensure the UK has world-class mobile phone coverage as investment in infrastructure will help drive this government’s long-term economic plan,” the Minister claimed.
“It can’t be right that in a fifth of the UK, people cannot use their phones to make a call. The government isn’t prepared to let that situation continue.
“We’ve been talking to the mobile companies about the problem and they are working with us to find a solution.
“This consultation will complement the work industry is doing and allow the government to hear from the wider telecoms sector, businesses and the public.
“Businesses have been clear about the importance of mobile phones and improve coverage will help deliver jobs and economic security,” he added.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) claims that 71% of businesses rated mobile phones as crucial or very important to their business.
The same research found that 51% of organisations said staff had a problem with mobile coverage very or quite often.
Options being considered to improve this situation include national roaming, which would allow phones to roam onto another network’s signal when theirs was not available and infrastructure sharing, where mobile networks would be allowed to put transmitters on each other’s masts.
The government is also thinking of reforming virtual networks such as Tesco and Virgin which currently agree access to a single network and then sell mobile packages to consumers – Whitehall wants to ensure such providers were able to offer mobiles accessing all four networks.
It has also proposed coverage obligation, this would oblige the networks to cover a certain percentage of the UK but leave it open for them to decide how to best achieve the outcome.