Ofcom has received a written letter to take action to improve mobile phone coverage between now and the next mobile spectrum being auctioned.
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has written to Ofcom regarding urgent action including legal and regulatory changes to the coverage.
NIC chairman Lord Adonis wrote to Ofcom after new figures showed large parts of the country may not be even getting the most basic mobile network services.
According to a new definition of good mobile coverage published by Ofcom, geographic landmass coverage – enabling users to make an uninterrupted mobile phone call for 90 seconds – could be as much as 10 percentage points lower than previously published under old measurements.
While network operators are expected to deliver coverage to 90% of the country, the latest figures suggest that it could be 80% that is achieved in practice.
The data revealed that total 4G coverage, where reception is available from all four mobile operators, is available across just 43% of the UK’s landmass; for calls and text messaging, 30% of the UK’s geography does not receive a signal from all four operators; and just 40% of the landmass in Scotland is covered by mobile telephone services from all operators.
Lord Adonis said: “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.
“This new measure for coverage comes almost a year to the day after we first warned about the poor mobile signal communities can face, but now suggests the situation is even worse than we thought. It demonstrates the need for urgent and radical action to tackle this issue immediately, ahead of the new mobile spectrum being auctioned and 5G technology being rolled out.
“That’s why I want Ofcom as the industry’s regulator to urgently take concerted action with government to tackle this situation. They should put all possible options on the table – including legal and regulatory changes – to ensure customers can be confident they are will get the service they deserve and pay for.”