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UK government wants carriers to allow ‘national roaming’. Carriers aren’t so keen

Despite the potential benefits to customers, carriers are reluctant to agree with the UK government’s plans to instigate ‘national roaming’ across rural areas.

The New Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid has suggested that UK carriers allow for national roaming in areas typically plagued by little to no signal, often referred to as ‘blackspots’.

Should the government force carriers to allow national roaming?

A government spokesperson has revealed that £150m is already being used to help alleviate the problem in low and zero coverage areas, but these new measures would help speed up the process and offer consistent signal across the whole of the UK, no matter what carrier you’re with.

An industry source even told the BBC that if they wished, the government could force operators to adopt national roaming, which is a real possibility at this stage, following reservations from the carriers directly.

All of the UK’s major carriers are already involved in coverage improvement and network expansion schemes, with the country’s largest carrier, EE investing £275m in modernising its infrastructure as well as offering new ways to connect such as voice-over-4G and WiFi calling, something Three has also been involved with. Three also previously outlined its plans to achieve 98% mobile coverage across the UK on its own terms.

An O2 spokesperson suggested that carriers would need far more information around Mr Javid’s proposal before any action could take place, “First we need to understand what the plan is and what it’s intended to address. For example, not spots, partial not spots and so on? Voice and data? 4G?”

The UK’s mobile infrastructure has been criticised in the past for falling behind other developed countries across Europe and the US and fixing these blackspots would be one step towards the government’s desire to achieve ‘world-class coverage’.

Do you think carrier’s should team up allow national roaming for their customers, or will it take the incentive out of independent network development? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Image credit: Flickr/Michael Dorausch

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