Cable.co.uk comments on BIG mobile coverage report
- The British Infrastructure Group (BIG) is a group of 88 MPs led by The Rt. Hon Grant Shapps MP and dedicated to championing better infrastructure in the UK
- Tonight at precisely 10pm, it has released a far-reaching report into the state of mobile phone coverage in the UK
- The criticisms in the report focus on the refusal of mobile providers to co-operate with one another in order to provide customers with the best signal no matter which network they are subscribed to (mobile roaming), their failure to erect masts which were promised at 525 sites across the UK, and the laws that are preventing providers from erecting these masts on private land
- Commenting on the data, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms expert at broadband comparison site Cable.co.uk, said: "Foreign visitors already enjoy this privilege – to deny it to our rural communities is obscene"
Friday 28 October 2016: This evening, BIG, the parliamentary pressure group headed up by The Rt. Hon Grant Shapps MP releases its wide-reaching mobile coverage report, designed to provoke action to improve UK mobile infrastructure and eradicate the UK's dreaded 'no spots'.
The report is wide-ranging, but the primary problems on which it sheds light are:
- Lack of mobile roaming: Though foreign visitors' phones will automatically switch to what ever network has the best signal, this feature is not available to UK customers, meaning each of the four networks compete with one another to achieve 100% coverage instead of working together to achieve it. The report suggests this situation is 'absurd'
- Failure to invest: The report draws attention to the £5bn that was earmarked in 2013 for investment in 600 new masts by next year, pointing out that only 75 of these have actually been built thus far
- More protection: The report calls for greater protection for consumers who take out a mobile contract only to find signal reception inadequate, increasing powers to leave the contract without penalty
- Reform of the ECC: The report calls for reform of the The Electronic Communications Code to regulate fees charged to network providers for use of their land
The full report will be available from Ofcom, from 10pm on Friday 28 Oct.
Commenting on Ofcom's findings, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms expert at broadband comparison site Cable.co.uk, said:
“Cable.co.uk wholeheartedly endorses both the findings and the actions proposed in this report. If we are to stay with the current system of four providers, each competing to cover the UK landmass, laws must be addressed which allow land owners either to overcharge or deny altogether important infrastructural improvements on their land. The existing laws are positively medieval.
"Consumers should have the right to cancel their contracts, without penalty, either in or outside the contract period in light of poor reception. Reception can and does change over time even within specific geographical areas.
"Especially in rural areas, the mobile coverage situation is undeniably poor for many. Where coverage is thin, it is absolutely sensible to oblige providers to enable mobile roaming – that is, automatically and invisibly switch customers to whichever network is providing the best signal at any given time. Foreign visitors already enjoy this privilege – to deny it to our rural communities is obscene."
Notes to editors
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Dan Howdle has been plugged into the attitudes of UK broadband, TV and mobile customers for over two decades, running research fieldwork both nationally and internationally on behalf of the biggest players in the industry. Dan is now consumer telecoms analyst at Cable, as well as more formally operating in the role of its Director of Communications and Content.
An experienced broadcaster, commentator and writer, Dan has appeared on BBC TV and radio, ITV, Sky and in the national papers. Dan has advised Ofcom on issues surrounding service quality, administered Cable’s Broadband Service Quality Awards and sat on the panel of judges for the Internet Service Providers Association annual awards.