updated 08:24 am EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Proposal could allow customers to switch cellular networks if subscribed carrier is not available
The British government is exploring a way for customers to use their mobile phones on other national cellular networks in areas lacking in phone signal. The plan, called "National Roaming," would let subscribers use other phone networks, similar to how international roaming occurs, but within the United Kingdom itself, though this has apparently received criticism from carriers.
UK Culture Secretary Sajid Javid is apparently behind the proposals, according to the BBC, with the scheme effectively becoming a relatively cheap way of eliminating signal blackspots. The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) says the government is already putting £150 million ($255 million) into projects to increase coverage in low-signal areas. "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," said a DCMS spokesperson. "Of course we want to look at what more can be done in areas with poor coverage."
Report sources located within the mobile phone industry suggests the government could force carriers to share networks with each other using existing legislation, but not without its drawbacks. The proposals could be considered a disincentive for carriers to continue expanding their network coverage, leaving carriers wary of expanding into areas where no other carrier operates. Charges levied onto calls could also be passed onto subscribers, resulting in potentially higher call costs and monthly charges.