Is this the end of mobile phone blackspots?

Radical shake-up will allow users to swap between rival networks to banish poor signals

A system of 'national roaming' to eliminate poor signals that affect many parts of the country is being discussed
  • Culture Secretary discussing system of national roaming to eliminate poor signal
  • Could see operators sharing mobile phone masts to increase coverage 
  • Industry sources say the plans are already being debated 
Mobile phone black-spots will become a thing of the past under radical Government plans  to make firms allow customers to swap freely between networks.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid is understood to be discussing a system of ‘national roaming’ to eliminate poor signals that affect many parts of the country.
The talks with mobile phone operators about reforms could mean them sharing mobile phone masts to increase coverage in rural areas.
The policy has been inspired by changes in the EU which will bring in free roaming from 2016. However, unless action is taken, foreign visitors will be able to come to the UK and benefit from hopping between networks for free, while people living in the UK cannot. 
It would mean a phonecall is transferred to the nearest mast, even if it is run by a rival company.
Mobile phone firms have been reluctant to agree to sharing masts because they have funded the costs of erecting them themselves, and do not want to share them with rivals.
However, the idea of national roaming is understood to have been raised by Mr Javid and his aides in meetings with industry leaders in recent weeks.
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: ‘Of course we want to look at what more can be done in areas with poor coverage. 
‘The Government has made clear it wants to ensure the UK has world-class mobile phone coverage as part of our investment in infrastructure for the long term economic plan.
‘We are investing up to £150million to improve mobile coverage in areas where there is currently no coverage from any of the mobile network operators.’ Campaigners have complained that in parts  of rural England telephone reception is worse than in India and Malawi.


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