British Infrastructure Group study calls for domestic roaming throughout the UK
EE has slammed a government report accusing all operators of providing poor coverage and being unable to hit the 90 per cent geographical target promised by the end of next year.
The report was released by the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) on October 28, which consists of 90 backbench MPs dedicating to promoting better infrastructure across the UK.
It claimed 17 million people (one third of mobile phone users) receive very little or no reception, with 525 ‘not spots’ where mobile coverage remains non-existent. Findings had been gathered from satisfaction surveys by Which?, uSwitch and Ofcom over the last two years.
The BIG report said that mobile coverage has seen few changes since operators invested £5 billion in 2014 to improve coverage by the end of next year. The group called for changes in legislation to allow domestic roaming throughout the UK, while enabling customers to leave a contract after three months if reception is inadequate.
According to BIG chairman GrantShapps,the2017coverage target is unrealistic given the study’s findings. “In 2014, the government pursued a £5 billion investment agreement with the four main operators to improve mobile signal in the UK. However, the MNOs are unlikely to achieve the targets of this agreement by the stated deadline of December 2017.
“It is unacceptable that areas in Britain continue to have such poor mobile connectivity, and that overseas visitors can expect better mobile coverage than Britons stuck with a single provider.”
However, an EE spokesman claimed figures from the report were outdated and roaming between various networks to gain the best coverage was an unsuitable solution.
“While we do agree that more mobile coverage is critical to the UK, this report fails to recognise the advances in mobile coverage since 2014.
“The UK is known to have among the best and fastest mobile networks in the world, but more can be done and our job is never finished.
“Confusingly, the report points to old figures, with our voice coverage now reaching over 85 per cent of the country. We are set to reach over 90 per cent of the UK geography before the government’s deadline,with not only voice coverage, but also high-speed 4G data coverage.
“National roaming is not the answer for the UK not-spots, and the concept of national roaming was fully considered by the previous government and discounted as a solution to mobile coverage issues in Britain.”