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Who us, share infrastructure? Networks reject gov proposal

Execs pour scorn on 'national roaming' outline – report

A governmental proposal that would require the UK mobile phone networks to share infrastructure has been shot down in flames.

The idea proposed by culture secretary Sajid Javid, which would remove any need for competition between the mobile networks on the basis of coverage, has been rejected as “unworkable” according to a report in the FT.

The idea was to boost coverage in rural areas by allowing users to roam onto another network as the government looks to gain political capital from reducing the number of “not-spots”.

It doesn’t, however, take into account that it provides a disincentive for networks to build out where there is universally poor coverage. If covering an area which is economically marginal means that the network which has gone to the expense then has to give that coverage to rivals, no one will go to the expense.

If, however, it gives one network an edge, there is at least a reason for one network to do it and one is better than none. And in practice, one often means more than one as Vodafone and O2 have a site-sharing scheme called “Cornerstone”, while EE and Three have similar site sharing arrangements. In a scenario where networks were forced to share coverage, it seems likely that it would be O2 which would lose out – as with the 4G licence it is the only network with a mandatory coverage requirement.

Industry experts say that the government attention to addressing coverage and capacity would be far better focused on the issues around testing and planning permission.

Of course here at The Register we’ve done our bit with our Monopoly pub crawl.

This found that EE had the best 4G network but that Vodafone was the best for voice and best overall. You can check out our interactive map here. ®

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