Mobile phone coverage in rural areas has always been a problem and I have recently joined a group of MPs calling for it to be a legal requirement that network operators enable roaming between providers in rural areas.
A lack of coordination and cooperation between providers has left many rural areas with the situation where you can get a good signal with one network but none with another. Anyone who lives in a rural area will have experienced this and many will have changed provider as a result.
This is not only frustrating as it can be difficult to get a signal, it also limits the choice of providers you can choose from. It can be particularly annoying when you change provider only to discover afterwards that you can’t get a signal at home or work when you could with your old provider.
The Government has already published a Statement of Strategic Priorities for Telecommunications. This sets it out as a strategic priority for telecoms regulator Ofcom to look at the costs and benefits of roaming in rural areas. However, many MPs feel this is not enough. We need to make it a legal requirement for network providers to deliver roaming.
Access to mobile telecoms has become all important and lack of network is a hindrance to economic growth in rural areas. Already, rural areas can lag behind, and it seems to me that this is a simple step that could make a big difference.
A group of MPs have written a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright MP, calling on the Government to take action on this and introduce legislation.