November 5, 2014 / 12:05 AM / 5 years ago

Britain to launch consultation to force telcos to improve mobile coverage

Nov 5 (Reuters) - The British government on Wednesday launched a consultation on new legislation to force mobile operators to improve coverage around the country.

“This consultation will complement the work industry is doing and allow the Government to hear from the wider telecoms sector, businesses and the public,” Sajid Javid, the government’s culture secretary, said in a statement.

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.

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. EE is a joint venture of Deutsche Telekom and France’s Orange SA.

Vodafone PLC in a statement echoed its competitor’s view, saying implementation “would be technically far more complex, slow to implement and would cause serious problems with network resilience”.

Other options in 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.

The consultation will close on Nov. 26. (Reporting by Ankush Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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