A GROUP OF MPs has complained that foreign visitors get a better deal out of roaming than local citizens and suggested that mobile operators enable nationwide roaming so that people can get a solid connection wherever they may be.
These demands come from the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) which is led by Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps. The organisation, made up of 90 MPs, said that UK residents get a bad deal as they move around the country through various degrees of network strength.
BIG explained how 17 million UK mobile customers had poor reception at home, while 525 areas around the country had no coverage at all.
The report also notes that notes that the UK's £5bn agreement with mobile networks, which was shook on back in 2014, isn't going to get rid of blackspots by its 2017 deadline.
"Although the British mobile communications sector has flourished through sustained private sector investment, comparing favourably with EU markets in terms of service costs and technological advances, visitors to Britain have consistently enjoyed better and broader mobile coverage," said Shapps in the BIG Mobile Coverage: A Good Call for Britain? report (PDF).
"Whereas British consumers remain stuck with a single provider, international SIM cards roam between different networks. This is a bad call for connectivity in Britain.
"Instead, this report takes a second look at the costs and benefits of national roaming, and urges the government to reconsider this approach on a smaller scale in areas severely affected by ‘not spots'.
"In light of Ofcom recently fining Vodafone £4.6m for breaching consumer protection rules, the treatment of mobile consumers requires greater scrutiny."
The report explained that the UK needs a regulatory kick up the jacksie, and should embrace the Digital Economy Act and give Ofcom additional powers.
"This BIG report also urges the passage of the Digital Economy Bill to kick-start much needed reforms to the Electronic Communications Code and to provide Ofcom with the ability to ensure that mobile operators become accountable to consumers," Shapps added.
"Britain is yet to achieve mobile coverage for all. The government must rethink which policies are the best call for Britain."
We have asked Ofcom for its views. µ
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