Radical reforms could end mobile phone 'blackspots' in rural parts of the UK

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid is pushing for a system where mobile phone operators would share masts to boost coverage

Plans to eradicate mobile signal ‘blackspots’ and introduce national roaming have been drawn up by the government.

Mobile phone operates could be able to share their networks in rural parts of the country where signal is poor or unavailable.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid is understood to be pushing for a system that would allow customers to switch freely to alternative networks - known as 'roaming' - if their own is unavailable.

However, mobile phone companies have expressed reluctance over the plans, as they have funded the costs of building the masts themselves and do not want rivals to use them.

Whitehall is said to have already spent £150 million on boosting coverage in rural areas but was looking to do more in response to EU plans to bring in free roaming from 2016.

The plans have the backing of a number of senior MPs who are said to have become increasingly frustrated by poor signals in their rural constituencies.

 

David Heath, MP for Somerton and Frome, said he was forced to “squat against the sink” to take phone calls from his office.

And Prime Minister David Cameron is said to be tired of losing calls in his Witney constituency.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “Of course we want to look at what more can be done in areas with poor coverage. 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.

“We are investing up to £150 million to improve mobile coverage in areas where there is currently no coverage from any of the mobile network operators.”

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