Sajid Javid, the government’s culture secretary, said the consultation will complement the work industry is doing and allow the Government to hear from the wider telecoms sector, businesses and the public,”
Traditionally governments hope that private enterprise will undertake such work voluntarily. They drop some broad hints, coupled with threats of legislation and private enterprises rushes to it. But for some reason the concept of rural coverage has not been a starter for the big telcos, so now the government has to make its threats clearer.
One possible option to eliminate poor coverage, which affects about one fifth of the UK, may include a national roaming plan, where subscribers will be able to switch between operators offering the strongest signal, the government said.
The government said it is keen to have comprehensive mobile coverage across the country to boost productivity and help provide jobs and economic security.
While this makes sense, it is the sort of thing that gives telecoms companies nightmares.
EE, the country’s largest mobile operator, said in a separate statement it does not want to implement national roaming as that would deteriorate network reliability and may also lead to price rises.
Vodafone agrees saying implementation “would be technically far more complex, slow to implement and would cause serious problems with network resilience”.
However the consultation include infrastructure sharing, allowing mobile networks to put transmitters on each other’s masts, and obliging the networks to cover a certain percentage of the UK.
What might happen is a group of telecoms will finally give in and agree to provide the sort of coverage the government wants.