Agreement by mobile operators to improve coverage to 90% of UK

Wednesday, December 24th 2014

An agreement between the government and the country's four major mobile operators will tackle coverage of not-spots and extend geographical coverage to 90% of UK, by 2017. EE, Three UK, O2 and Vodafone have signed a binding agreement to bring coverage to partially or no coverage spots in the UK. They have agreed to an investment programme of £5 billion to better their infrastructure across the United Kingdom, by 2017. Before this deadline, each operator will provide 90% coverage by geographical area, with a guarantee to provide on 2G, 3G and 4G networks, dependable signal strength for voice that will allow consumers to complete calls. They have agreed to accept the amended license conditions that is enforceable by the regulator Ofcom.

In return, the government has agreed to drop its controversial proposal for a National Roaming policy, which requires operators to share their network with rivals, but was rejected by the operators earlier. The 4 major UK mobile operators argue that such a proposal would instead jeopardise healthy competition and would become a disincentive to investment into poorly or not covered areas. Instead, the mobile operators countered with another proposal which focused on expanding network coverage, via private investment, by building more infrastructure (like masts, etc.), which apparently now the government has accepted through the 'legally binding agreement'.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said he was happy to have secured this deal, legally binding the 4 operators to improve coverage in UK. He pointed out that too many parts suffer from poor service, that leaves them unable to make calls or send text messages. Being clear on how mobile connectivity and improved coverage is important, this agreement will ensure world-class phone coverage that UK deserves, he added. The Vodafone spokesperson claimed that their company supports the government's objective of better coverage to rural and partial not-spot places. The representative added that this voluntary commitment by industry agreed upon, will deliver 90% of UK with voice services and will improve mobile internet as well.

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