UK mobile operators reject government plans on national roaming

Mobile operators in the UK have rejected government proposals on setting up national roaming, according to the Financial Times. Earlier this year, operators were urged by officials to look into the possibility of sharing infrastructure in rural parts of the country, as well as locations where consumers seemingly loose signal coverage. While this would help prevent customers experiencing drop outs in connectivity, mobile operators didn't believe the plans to be viable.

It's reported that Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey fired out letters to each operator in attempt to reach an agreement over national roaming, but carriers noted they would receive little in return and wouldn't be able to collaborate on a solution by the start of 2015. They also state that there wouldn't be the incentive to invest in their own networks to compete against one another. The UK government is able to put more pressure on local operators and push through such plans, but for the time being officials are awaiting for said companies to work on plans of their own.

How would you like to see the UK mobile operators working together to provide better nationwide coverage? Sound off your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Source: FT, via: Engadget

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Best to leave the competition in place imo
  • In fact, for compettition is better if  new operator doesnt need to build another independent mobile network.
  • Yes but we already have a number of virtual networks operating, Tesco, Asda, Virgin to name a few.
  • But tesco does not provide hardware and will not give you LTE in your area if it is not supplied.
  • Tesco does provide hardware. They have plenty of phones to choose from. And they have started offering LTE now too. And I'm pretty sure they use EE for coverage too!!!
  • I thought they use O2
  • I'm sure they switched a while back now to EE!
  • Why? 
  • Competition is great in most cases and works in cities/towns but this is for rural areas. There is often no 3G service because it isn't economically viable for any company to provide it. Whereas if cell towers were shared in these areas (and only these areas) they could become more viable by splitting the cost of running them across operators. This is similar to the governments push to get broadband to rural areas although there was a big pot of money pusing for that too which no doubt this needs.
  • No i do not agree, why should they? they invest in their infrastructure why should they share that investmets with others?.
  • The mobile phone network in remote locations should be considered an essential service (like the Royal Mail). In such remote locations, the 4 competing companies should be forced to pay into a pot to maintain a cheap and reliable 2G network. People who live that far out cant expect 3 or 4G, but they should expect to receive a reliable network.
  • In Its not going ro happen as then EE cannot advertise that they have largest network. And its going to happen as it would help the consumer and no large corporation has interest in Joe blogs, only the money out of our pockets
  • No more roaming will be the best for all European. But UK operators working together-NEVER!!!! All other part of Europe already prepare for no rooming. 2015 start s from Bulgaria, turkey, Romania Macedonia, 2016 hole Europe!!! But UK operator s need government pressure!!!!
  • Lose* signal coverage
  • It's Rich have to expect such things (along with such journalise rubbish like 'fired out letters')
  • So basically they're trying to create a super network? One operator to rule them all and then take off huge taxes? Seems like a well thought out plan to me...
  • This is good idea. It works on many industry areas: - electricity distribution - I can buy elektricity from different companies but distributor is one (why to have many different electric lines to my house) - railways - there is one company whihc cares about railways. And many transport companies. (one rails are enough)    
  • Not quite what is said. More like increase roaming possibilities for low service areas. Still, it is a strange concept for government to intervene in free marketplace affairs such as this. IF that is where its headed.
  • Free markets do not serve the greater good. That is why Royal Mail are still the only postal service in the UK to deliver to every single house on thes islands.
    Free markets serve those in the most profitable areas. Remote areas do not generate much margin - so they don't get investment.
    So why not pool all that extra capacity (I cycled throughout the Scot Highlands this summer - there was always A network...but rarely my one!! It was annoying - and given our reliance on mobile phones for safety, it's an unnecessary barrier to improved safety in remote locations)
  • Greedy bastards
  • Who? 
  • Loose signal? I think you meant Lose.
  • I hate the way the world wants to work...
  • You hate the way governments force profit centric companies to give improved services to hitherto forgotten customers in remote areas?!
    I'm glad I don't live where you do :)
  • Opportunity missed to set a great precedent. Take all the towers off the providers and have one company provide "tower rental" instead of line rental. Oh and should be "lose" in second sentence @Rich.
  • True on all accounts.
    Having said that, the government would have a hard time generating such huge windfalls from spectrum sell-offs!
  • Don't Three already have an arrangement in place with (I think) EE? When I travel to rural areas like the depths of Wales or Devon and occasionally on a train journey, the roaming symbol appears and I lose data... It's useful for maintaining a connection for calls and texts...  Saying NO to something that'd provide customers with better service (and the networks with more customers in rural areas, presumably) seems counter productive...
  • Some networks already play nice with each other... I guess the point of this government intervention is to try and force them all to play nice with each other for the benefit of consumers, particularly in those rural areas were signal is not as good. 
  • Yes, quite. I can't see how allowing roaming in problem areas would hurt... There should have been an ultimatum. EITHER allow roaming in trouble-spots OR improve coverage by X date... 
  • Typical of the UK networks. Only interested in what's good for their business and not their customers.
  • I get why they would oppose this, but arguments can be spun both ways. Hopefully they'll start to work together eventually.
  • We need a free national WiFi service.
  • Just get BT Broadband. It's £10 a month for their entire FON network. It's a great service :)
  • BT Fon is shit 512kbs is not internet
  • BT Fon has given me very good internet in the furthest reaches of Scotland, and off a boat in Bangor, N.Wales (via a long range wifi antenna).
    512kbp/s is all good for a huge number of things. Certainly better than the mobile phone network in a vast majority of places.
    (Can't believe I just wrote such a reasonable reply to someone who doesn't sound like he could hold down a half decent conversation. But yes, I digress)
  • I think network operators should work together all across Europe when it comes to roaming. It can't be that you still have to pay that much for internet when being abroad in our day and age!
    But that's just me ...
  • It should be law
  • All infrastructure should be nationalized.
  • Tesco uses O2
  • Virgin uses EE(Orange/T-Mobile)
  • We'll join you in a while (please feel free to shut the door behind you).
  • 'EE' everything everywhere the uk's biggest and best reality its more like not much anywhere. the sooner this little island has stable coverage nationally the better. My phone drops 10-15 calls a week its a bit of a joke its 2014 for gods sake surely the networks have had the resources by now to provide us with mobile phones that are well, mobile???
  • It's such a pity then that this same 'government' saw fit to privatise the Royal Mail, for billions of pounds less than it was worth, and at the hands of an independent set of advisors (hint: the advisors worked for the same companies that happened to buy the majority of the shares and got in a month early), and at the expense of many jobs and wage cuts. I love our country :( Oh and prices go up year on year.
  • Everytime i get out of London I only get one or two lines which always has bad signal