National roaming could delay 4G rollout by years, says EE


A new report from EE has suggested that the UK national roaming policy currently being mulled over by the government and mobile providers could hold back 4G rollout by up to two years.

The research comes from Capital Economics and predicts that industry spending would be significantly dented by current national roaming plans, with a possible drop of up to 440 million in capital expenditure year-over-year.

Plans could delay the rollout of 4G by between 18 and 24 months, the research claims, while only increasing mobile coverage by 2-4 per cent across the UK.

"EE's consultation response reflects our longstanding view that while we support the ambition to improve rural coverage, the Government's proposal for national roaming in a flawed concept," the mobile provider said in a statement.

The government has proposed the new national roaming law in order to tackle mobile notspots' in rural areas, which reportedly affect a fifth of people across the country.

UK providers have not been enthusiastic about the proposal, with O2 telling IT Pro: "We have made our concerns over the national roaming proposals very clear and have advised the government on a range of alternative solutions to achieve the same ambition, some of which we have already embarked upon.

"National roaming is a regulatory solution that will worsen the experience people have when using their phones and undermine future investment in mobile infrastructure in the UK."

According to the report, mobile operators are currently investing around 5.5 billion between 2012 and 2015.

"Together with the other major UK network operators we will propose a solution that helps solve the problem of rural coverage," EE continued, "without any of the technical, economic and competitive barriers of National Roaming. If agreed by Government, the joint proposal can be implemented quickly and for less cost, a win-win for the British public."

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

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