The Department of Culture Media and Sport is currently consulting on whether to introduce a “national roaming” plan which will force mobile operators to accept ‘network-switching’ arrangements with their rivals. The Government has asked the Industry to voluntarily come up with a plan to improve coverage; but if this does not happen it may impose the roaming scheme on them.  

UK mobile operators are against the plans to tackle ‘not spots’ (areas which suffer from poor or non-existent signal) in this way, but have yet to come up with an alternative solution. Objectors say that national roaming only tackles partial not-spots, so it would have no impact on people living in UK blackspots, where no coverage is available on any network. They argue that continued investment in the network infrastructure would help to address this issue.

Mr Burt is keen to hear from constituents with their views on the proposed legislation. Would you prefer to be able to temporarily switch networks if there was a better one available in the area, or would you rather keep competition in the industry and hope that bring better investment to Bedfordshire?

Arguments for national roaming:

-      Will help to improve coverage in areas where there are one or more signal providers already

-      Allows consumers to take advantage of the good system of mobile networks that cover the majority of the UK, without being tied into their contract provider

-      Could provide a suitable solution until Providers are able to come up with a better alternative

Arguments against national roaming:

-      Phones constantly hunting for networks run down batteries

-      Roll out of 4G network likely to fill current gaps where users get no service

-      Masts will have to be erected in remote areas

-      Remote masts are economically unviable, and companies unlikely to want to invest if they have to then be shared with competitors

-      Currently a very competitive industry that attracts investment; this may be lost

-      Opposition from Home Office as will be harder to track terrorists

You can find full details of, and respond to, the Government’s consultation here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/tackling-partial-not-spots-in-mobile-phone-coverage

To complete a short survey and let Alistair know your views, follow this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/nationalroaming