Lord Adonis, the head of the National Infrastructure Commission, has called on Ofcom to take urgent action against the problem of poor mobile coverage in the UK
This comes just days after the regulator found that over a million homes have poor broadband and large parts of the UK still have zero 4G coverage. According to Ofcom itself, 30 per cent of the UK's landmass is unable to send calls and text message on all four major phone networks.
This isn't the first time Lord Adonis has criticised the state of the UK's broadband and mobile infrastructure, having called a consultation about its quality in October. That consultation singled out mobile signal as an area of concern, and in a new letter to Ofcom he urged them to "put all options on the table" and fix the black spot issue. Options that included legal and legislatory changes.
The issue of black spots is something the last government focused a reasonable amount of attention on, even going so far as to suggest that networks share their infrastructure so that people had access to phone signal regardless of where they were or who they were with. Naturally the networks resisted, and some research paid for by EE claimed that 'national roaming' would only improve 2G signal by four per cent. It was at this time Vodafone said it would be boosting its 3G signal to cover black spots, but nothing was ever said about 4G.
But with the 5G rollout seemingly imminent, and the fact that four out of five rural homes don't have 4G indoors, Lord Adonis wants something done immediately.
"In an age when access to a mobile signal is regarded as a must-have, it is deplorable that even in areas previously considered to have strong coverage, operators are still delivering such poor services that customers can struggle to make a quick phone call.
It demonstrates the need for urgent and radical action to tackle this issue immediately, ahead of new mobile spectrum being auctioned and 5G technology being rolled out."
Adonis suggested that strong signal was required, and networks should have to share masts where necessary. If that means I can get 4G in my bathroom that would be great. I can get a bar of 3G, if I'm lucky. [BBC News]