New legislation could be in the works to effectively force UK operators to offer roaming options for customers where signal is poor. The UK government continues to work with mobile carriers on a solution to address black spots and areas where signal is hard to come by. The plan is to offer said roaming support to make it possible to switch between networks to maintain service, something mobile operators previously rejected.
According to The Telegraph report, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid plans to introduce network roaming across Britain with new legislation if carriers do not comply. It's estimated that a million people suffer from unreliable network coverage, but it's not simply rural areas that are causing issues. Consumers have also reported black holes in cities and towns across the UK where signal coverage is simply not up to par, especially when compared against signal charts provided by network providers.
The Government is expected to launch a consultation on the reforms this week after the failure of the "big four" phone operators – Vodafone, O2, EE and Three – to reach a voluntary agreement with ministers on improving coverage in areas where reception is patchy. In these so-called "partial not-spots", signal is limited to one or two mobile networks. Customers who have contracts with networks that do not cover these zones cannot make calls or send text messages, even though other networks may be available.
It's believed that by sharing resources, mobile operators no longer have the incentive to invest in their own networks to compete against one another. Should carriers not come together with a viable solution, the government will likely force through legislation to kick-start reform. An announcement is planned for next week.