The Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has said that the government has reached a £5 billion agreement with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone to address issues with mobile network coverage in “partial not-spots” across the UK.
As part of the deal, the four companies have a binding pledge to:
- Guarantee £5 billion of investment to boost mobile infrastructure over the next three years;
- Deliver guaranteed voice and text coverage across 90% of the UK, targeting current “not-spots”, by 2017;
- Provide reliable signal for 2G, 3G and 4G customers long enough to make calls;
- Amend license conditions for the pledges to be legally enforced by the regulator Ofcom.
The deal will supplement the government’s existing £150 million programme to bring coverage to those areas currently without any service and is hoped to result in a two-thirds reduction in the number of mobile black-spots in the UK.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I am pleased to have secured a legally binding deal with the four mobile networks. Too many parts of the UK regularly suffer from poor mobile coverage leaving them unable to make calls or send texts.
“Government and businesses have been clear about the importance of mobile connectivity, and improved coverage, so this legally binding agreement will give the UK the world-class mobile phone coverage it needs and deserves.”
Olaf Swantee Chief Executive Officer of EE, said: “This agreement ensures that our customers are able to stay connected in even more places up and down the country.”
Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer of O2, said: “A partnership between government and the mobile operators is required to maximise coverage across the UK, so this agreement is a good outcome for our customers.”
Dave Dyson, Chief Executive of Three, said: “Today’s agreement reflects the strength of our network today, our plans for the future and our commitment to bring its benefits to more people and more places than ever before.”
A Vodafone UK spokesperson said: “We support the Government’s objective of delivering better coverage to rural areas including partial not spots… It is a great result for UK consumers and businesses and it will make the UK a leader across Europe in terms of the reach of mobile coverage.”
According to the government, the Secretary of State expects the operators to meet an interim goal in 2016, and will be receiving updates on this with Ofcom also monitoring developments.