BSG CEO’s response to DCMS Consultation on improving mobile coverage

BSG CEO’s response to DCMS Consultation on improving mobile coverage

In today’s connected society consumers increasingly need, and require, access to digital services wherever they are. We therefore welcomes the Government’s intention to improve mobile coverage, but caution against making rushed changes to networks that form part of our critical national infrastructure.

DCMS have today released a consultation aimed at tackling partial not-spots. The three week consultation outlines three potential measures to improve 2G coverage:

  • Increased infrastructure sharing by mobile operators
  • The creation of Multiple Operator Mobile Virtual Network Operators
  • National Roaming

In seeking to improve mobile coverage, we must be careful in defining the problem. Firstly, it is important to note that these measures are focused on extending 2G coverage – which facilitates voice and texts – not 3G or 4G which allows to internet or broadband services and which are likely to form the backbone of the ‘ubiquitous’ Internet of Things. Secondly, this will not extend the total mobile network footprint – this will not address ‘total not-spots’. Thirdly, let’s not overestimate the scale of the problem. Many news reports have stated that over a fifth of the UK is affected by partial not-spots. This is true if we are considering the total landmass of the UK , but not if we are talking about total premises, motorways and main roads.

Any of the changes outlined in the consultation would represent a major change to a market that the Government acknowledges has produced high levels of coverage and service, at low cost to the consumer – and until very recently, at no cost to the taxpayer.

It is therefore imperative that any change is carefully and thoroughly examined – and that other policy levers that could facilitate increased coverage on a commercial basis, such as reform of the Electronic Communications Code are included – in a full and proper consultation process.