The UK’s four mobile network operators – O2 (Telefonica), Vodafone, EE and 3 UK – have agreed to establish a new company to help improve 4G coverage in rural areas.
The companies met with DCMS Secretary Jeremy Wright and said they would allow access to each other’s masts on a reciprocal basis to boost rural mobile network competition. The network operators have also proposed establishing a new company, overseen by Ofcom and the government, to allocate funds for building new masts in ‘notspot’ areas where there is no mobile service from any operator.
Their proposals are conditional on Ofcom removing coverage obligations on 5G spectrum licences to be sold later in 2019. They also want a reduction in annual licence fees paid to fund new masts. The proposals come after the UK government threatened to impose ‘national roaming’ on the networks after becoming frustrated with their lack of progress with talks to boost rural connectivity.