Press release

Eliminating poor mobile coverage

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Government sets out plans to eliminate poor mobile coverage that blights a fifth of the UK.

As part of its long-term economic plan, the government today set out plans to eliminate the poor mobile coverage that blights a fifth of the UK.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid today said mobile users in many parts of the UK regularly suffer from a poor signal leaving them unable to make calls or send texts.

These areas – so called ‘partial not-spots’ – have coverage from some but not all of the 4 mobile networks (EE, O2, Three and Vodafone). Depending on the network consumers are on, they therefore may have no coverage.

The Culture Secretary is determined to improve coverage from all 4 networks in these areas and has therefore launched a consultation on the various legislative proposals that can help achieve this.

This will give the government the chance to hear views on these proposals from all interested parties.

Talks have been held with the mobile companies in recent months in an attempt to find a voluntary solution and this work by the industry is expected to continue whilst the consultation runs.

Sajid Javid said:

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.

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 improved coverage will help deliver jobs and economic security.”

Take part in the consultation

Notes to editors

Research by the Federation of Small Businesses found 71% of businesses rated mobile phones as crucial or very important to their business.

The survey also found that 51% of businesses said their staff had a problem with mobile coverage very or quite often.

The consultation outlines various legislative options for taking full coverage to areas with partial coverage. The options in the consultation document are:

  • National roaming – phones would roam onto another network’s signal when theirs was not available. This is similar to what happens when you’re abroad
  • Infrastructure sharing – mobile networks would be able to put transmitters on each other’s masts
  • Reforming virtual networks – companies such as Tesco and Virgin currently agree access to a single network and then sell mobile packages to consumers. We could ensure these virtual networks were able to offer mobiles that accessed all 4 networks
  • Coverage obligation – oblige the networks to cover a certain percentage of the UK but leaving it open for them to decide how to best to achieve this outcome