UK government to introduce national roaming law

mobile roaming

Mobile networks in the UK will be faced with new national roaming laws this week, as plans to allow end users to switch between networks in rural areas or notspots' will be announced.

The new legislation will be outlined by Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, reports The Sunday Times, with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone to be affected by the move. After the law is pushed through, the operators will have to share network resources in rural areas where coverage is notoriously hit and miss.

Customers will then automatically be able to connect to whichever network signal is the strongest where they are, effectively making notspots a thing of the past.

Networks, however, have opposed plans, citing that such a move would negatively impact their ability to improve infrastructure in rural areas as well as force them to increase prices when profits start to suffer.

Operators were given a chance to find an alternative solution to the UK's coverage problem, but their failure to do so has meant that Javid's plans may indeed come into effect.

The paper quotes an unknown source as saying: "We're keen on a national roaming plan. We've talked to the mobile phone networks and told them to come up with a plan. The secretary of state is pretty frustrated that they have failed to do so.

"We've given them numerous opportunities to find a solution. The lack of movement from the mobile phone operators means we now need a legislative option to deal with the issue of partial notspots."

IT Pro first reported on the story in June, when UK mobile operators and the government first entered talks on how to improve coverage across the nation. The initiative was outright rejected in September due to logistical reasons.

At the time a spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: "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... of course we want to look at what more can be done in areas with poor coverage."

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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