UK mobile operators could introduce national roaming

Hundreds of thousands of people living in Britain’s mobile signal blackspots could soon benefit from the introduction of national roaming.

The culture, media and sport secretary, Sajid Javid, says that mobile operators should share masts so that people living in the countryside and other rural areas can get better and more reliable signals.

Free roaming would allow a mobile device to switch to a rival operator’s network if its mast was closer, reports telegraph.co.uk. This means the user always has access to the strongest signal possible, rather than having to put up with just one network’s coverage.

Free roaming will come to the UK by 2016, thanks to changes in European Union policy, but unless the British government acts soon, only foreign visitors will be able to benefit from the changes.

However, mobile operators argue that the scheme will be costly, especially for consumers. Moreover, there will be little incentive for operators to build more masts if their network is to be shared in the future, reports bbc.co.uk.

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that it is looking into what can be done in locations with poor signal.

“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,” he explained. “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.”