The UK’s four mobile network operators have today finalised the Government’s landmark deal to deliver improved mobile coverage for consumers across the UK.
As part of the Government’s long-term economic plan, the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has secured legal requirements from the four mobile networks to tackle poor signal issues in so-called ‘partial not-spots’.
These are areas within the UK that have coverage from some but not all of the four mobile networks. Depending on the network consumers are on, they may have no coverage in these areas.
The mobile networks EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have now made the deal legally binding by accepting amended licence conditions to reflect the agreement. This means that for the first time ever, Ofcom will be able to enforce a consistent signal strength from each of the mobile network operators across the whole area they service, with huge benefits for consumers.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “For far too long, too many parts of the UK have regularly suffered from poor mobile coverage leaving them unable to make calls or send texts. Now at last we have progress that will give the UK the world-class mobile phone coverage it needs and deserves.
“The deal will also bring £5bn investment by the mobile networks into the UK’s infrastructure, which will help drive this Government’s long-term economic plan.”
As a result of the deal, it will cut total ‘not-spots’ where there is currently no mobile coverage by two-thirds. This will support the Government’s existing £150m programme to take mobile coverage to the areas of the UK that have no coverage at all. Many parts of the UK will also benefit from better data coverage, some for the first time.
Mobile networks will now take forward their plans to improve mobile coverage and Ofcom will monitor progress regularly. The Secretary of State expects the operators to meet an interim goal in 2016, and will be receiving updates on this.
Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer of O2, said: “A partnership between government and the mobile operators is required to maximise coverage across the UK, so this agreement is a good outcome for our customers. It will support investment in our network, while ensuring that strong competition remains between the different networks.”
Dave Dyson, Chief Executive of Three, added “We’ve doubled the size of our network in the past five years and we continue to invest to maintain a great network experience for our customers. This agreement reflects the strength of our network today, our plans for the future and our commitment to bring its benefits to more people and more places than ever before.”
A Vodafone UK spokesperson continued “We support the Government’s objective of delivering better coverage to rural areas including partial not spots. This is why Vodafone spent £1 billion on our network and services in the UK last year alone and will continue to spend a similar amount over the next year as well. We now expect the Government to reform and modernise the Electronic Communications Code to ensure it better supports our ability to invest, build, upgrade and maintain our fixed and mobile network.