The government is considering new solutions to combat Britain’s ‘notspots’ – areas where it is impossible or certainly very difficult to obtain a mobile phone signal.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that not every part of the nation has network coverage. But did you know that these black holes currently affect a fifth of the UK, leaving mobile phone owners unable to send or receive phone calls and text messages in many areas?
This is a problem which Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, is determined to address. He believes that phone networks should adopt ‘national roaming’, enabling handsets to switch networks if the primary provider is unavailable. This practice would be similar to what happens when we travel abroad.
“Javid commented: It can’t be right that in a fifth of the UK, people cannot use their phones to make a call. The government isn’t prepared to let that situation continue.”
Threat to national security and battery life
The government appears to be pushing ahead with these proposals this month, despite mobile networks being against it. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has also criticised the plan, as it would make it more difficult for the police to track terrorists and criminals.
Operators argue that national roaming would pose a security risk, and drain phones’ battery lives, as they would constantly need to search for the strongest signal. Instead, they want to be able to build and share more phone masts, something which would require changes to planning laws.
Analyst with research firm Ovum, Matthew Howett, added that the government’s chosen solution is “messy” and “ought to be abandoned”, as there are too many side-effects. He also commented that the plans were complicated and would prove costly. Instead, Howett suggests that operators and the government need to work together to come up with a more practical solution.
Meanwhile, the mobile telecoms industry, the general public and UK businesses have been given until 26th November to respond to the government’s proposals.