UK cellcos reject plans for ‘national roaming’

8 Sep 2014

Proposals by the UK government which called on the country’s mobile network operators to share networks for ‘national roaming’ are said to have been rejected by cellcos, according to the Financial Times. It was noted that Sajid Javid, the British culture secretary, had made these plans an important part of attempt to improve mobile coverage in rural areas ahead of the general election due to be held next year. As per the government’s proposals it had suggested that mobile customers be able to connect to infrastructure belonging to any operator in those areas where their own carrier has no coverage. It is understood that digital economy minister Ed Vaizey had written to cellcos with a view to having a national roaming agreements in place by the start of 2015, only for telecoms executives to claim the plans were unworkable in the timeframe set out, while also noting that they were undesirable in principle. One unnamed source familiar with the discussions between the state and operators was cited as saying of the plan: ‘It was rejected. There are reasons why it would not work from a technical and legal perspective … The letters outlined the complexity of it and pushed for alternatives.’

In the wake of the development Mr Vaizey is said to have called on the UK’s four cellcos – EE, O2 UK, Vodafone UK and Hutchison 3G UK – to put forward any other ideas they might have for enhancing coverage in rural areas. Meanwhile, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is said to be engaging in its own cost and benefit analysis of national roaming.

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