UK Government proposes ‘rural roaming’ for mobile operators

The UK Government has proposed plans to require mobile operators to implement roaming in rural parts of the UK.

In a consultation on its new Strategic Priorities for Telecommunications, the UK Government calls on Ofcom to review the possibility of allowing consumers to access other operators when they do not get coverage from their own operator.

The consultation states that roaming “has the potential to improve consumer choice and address partial not-spots” and calls for Ofcom to “fully consider the costs and benefits of achieving this outcome” including requiring roaming when awarding any future spectrum allowance.

It forms part of the UK Government’s commitment to extend mobile coverage to 95% of the UK’s geography by 2022. Recent Ofcom figures show that only 78% of Scotland’s landmass has coverage from an operator and only 38% has good 4G coverage from all operators.

Ofcom are due to auction off new spectrum frequencies for mobile coverage later on this year.

The announcement has been welcomed by local MP John Lamont, who says Ofcom need to implement mobile roaming as soon as possible.

Commenting, John Lamont MP said: “A lack of mobile phone signal is a huge source of frustration for many communities in the Borders.

“Like a lack of broadband coverage, having a decent mobile signal is holding businesses back and is really unfair for consumers who are paying the same as everyone else for an inferior service.

“These proposals have the potential to vastly improve mobile signal in the Borders. The ability to hop on to another mobile operator’s signal if your own provider does not cover the area would be a great idea for rural areas.

“While efforts to improve mobile coverage are making a difference, it is clear we need a significant change like mobile roaming.”