Networks legally sign up to Govt’s plan to tackle poor signal issues

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EE, O2, Three and Vodafone collectively agree to a £5 billion investment programme to improve mobile infrastructure by 2017

The Government has secured legal requirements from EE, O2, Three and Vodafone to tackle poor signal issues in so-called ‘partial not-spots’.

These are areas that have some but not all of the four networks and depending on the network consumers are on, they may have no coverage in these areas at all.

The networks have now made the deal legally binding by accepting amended licence conditions. This means that for the first time, Ofcom will be able to enforce a consistent signal strength from each of them across the whole area they service.

Under the agreement, they have collectively agreed to a £5 billion investment programme to improve mobile infrastructure by 2017 and guaranteed voice and text coverage from each operator across 90 per cent of the UK geographic area by the same year, halving areas currently blighted by patchy coverage as a result of partial not-spots.

They have also agreed that full coverage from them all will increase from 69 per cent to 85 pr cent of geographic areas by 2017 and will provide reliable signal strength for voice for each type of mobile service, whether 2G, 3G or 4G.

As a result, the Government said this will cut out the ‘not-spots’ where there is currently no mobile coverage by two-thirds and will support its existing £150 million programme to take mobile coverage to the areas of the UK that have no coverage at all. It added many parts of the UK will also benefit from better data coverage, some for the first time.

The networks will now proceed with their plans to improve mobile coverage, with Ofcom monitoring the progress regularly. The Secretary of State expects them to meet an interim goal in 2016.

Javid said: “For far too long, too many parts of the UK have regularly suffered from poor mobile coverage, leaving them unable to make calls or send texts. Now at last we have progress that will give the UK the world-class mobile phone coverage it needs and deserves.

“The deal will also bring £5 billion investment by the mobile networks into the UK’s infrastructure, which will help drive this Government’s long-term economic plan.”

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