UK mobile operators could be made to share networks in rural areas where signal is weak, under plans to provide better services to consumers from all network operators. Ministers have put forward the plan to prevent situations where only one or two major operators are available in certain parts of the country, providing consumers with more choice as to who they wish to hold a contract with. This is before the UK (and EU in general) look at 5G in years to come.

It's no secret that the UK suffers from blackspots dotted throughout the country. The idea is to allow consumers to switch between companies, regardless as to where they're located, much like how international roaming is achieved while abroad. Affected mobile operators have stated this would remove the incentive they have to construct new masts in areas to improve signal, noting how new equipment would be decided against if it's to be shared with competitors.

Reading through the BBC report, one has to wonder why the UK government can't shake the industry up so masts and infrastructure is managed by a separate company and have network operators rent access, much like how Network Rail operates the country's vast railway network. This would not only solve the competition issue with the construction of new masts, but also bring companies down to a level playing field, focusing more on service, plans, deals and other bonuses to attract custom.

Source: BBC


Reader comments

UK government to make mobile operators share towers to boost signal in rural areas


Too bad this will never happen in the US. Carrier lobbyists have American politicians by the balls. Not to mention the whole "government meddling in the private sector" thing....

well not only that, it's work on it's own to do this in the U.S. because the carriers all use different bands. Verizon and Sprint can't share towers because their LTE and CDMA bands are different. same with at&t and t-mobile, and any other combination really. however Verizon's XLTE runs in the same band as T-Mobile's LTE and parts of AT&T's LTE.

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What about the smaller/ local/ regional carriers that share antennas with the bigger companies? Seems to work for them.

Surely that doesn't really matter as long as your phone has the radio hardware to use the different frequencies.

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They're different protocols as well. Not many phones have all the different modems needed and they are usually advertised as such.

Calls of Communism and Socialism will be heard across every mountain top if something like this was even spoke about in hushed tones in back offices of public power in the United States of Corporate America. FOXNews would have fodder to shoot for the news 10 election cycles. Obama would formally become Baby Doc Hitler. Empires would fall. Heads would explode. Donald Trumps wig would fly the coop. the Horror of leveling the playing field that would only help the PEOPLE! Those miserable 72% who only TAKE, TAKE, TAKE! Oh the humanity! Those damned commy UK Ministers ! How dare they! Off with there heads!

Is Obama Hitler or Stalin, right wingers call him both, he can't be both, which is it? Seems pretty republican with nominating Ex-Corporate execs to secretary and leader positions of regulators, Like the heads of The FDA, FCC, Treasury, FTC, all held by EX Mosanto, Goldman Sachs, Corporate Lobbyists, and so on. Seems the government is run by the 1% and Corporations, because money equals free speech, and 400 People have more wealth than the bottom 150 Million citizens, which means they get what they want and decide what everyone else deserves.

Just saying the Political Farce in Washington is getting old, on both sides.

It seems...? It is. There are no sides in the farce that is Washington. Corporations fund all. They don't even try to hide it anymore. No "side" is better than the other. They both talk and act out of the same butthole. I'm hoping one day the people will stop separating themselves by media driven titles and realize we are all in the same crap creek being pissed on by the same corporations.

As messed up as American politics is, it's hilarious that people still say right-wing and left-wing. ALL politicians are bad for America.

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Most "Republicans" aren't part of the 1%. Most "Democrats" aren't part of the 1%. Thinking Obama's revolving door selections puts him in the Republican camp is wrong; it's more of a totalitarian or statist camp. See the Nolan Chart.

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So true! I am reading a book on Reagan at the moment and on most levels his policies were 'to the left' of Obama's now yet Ronnie is the 2nd coming of the baby Jesus to the tea baggers and Obama is just a gay, socialist jihadi (a curious mix of wahhabi and atheist apparently...) one man suicide bombing sleeper cell! If Obama hiked up the tax rates to Reagan's levels Hannity would don a suicide vest to the next correspondent's dinner...

we need this in the US why do we need 4 carriers all building towers in the middle of North Dakota farm land or Nevada desert?

So nobody understands how competition is generated... Forcing them to share masts means no competitive advantage from better signal, so why bother investing in masts at all? This is a terrible idea - makes zero business sense in a capitalist economy and will never actually get through parliament.

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I agree. This completely takes away the incentive for a carrier to build new infrastructure in an area where they will be forced to share it.

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Exactly, there's nothing stopping them from upgrading the infrastructure they currently have, it's the same thing with rural 'broadband'. They don't want to upgrade certain rural areas because they figure it isn't worth the hassle, people are already paying for a service so who cares how shit it is because it's shit all across the board. The government has been paying BT millions to upgrade Internet infrastructure and they now have a monopoly in rural areas. Also this is the first time I've ever heard anyone say that the UK rail infrastructure privatisation should be copied, it's been an absolute disaster for tax payer and train user alike.

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I guess it depends of if they're talking about sharing the transmitters, or just making the tower structure available to other carriers to install their transmitters.

The former stifles competition by disincentivizing expansion, while the latter promotes it by preventing monopolies.

If it's just renting mast space, then the carrier that builds the tower will have the incentive of lease income to offset their initial capital outlay.

Of course, we're talking about rural areas farm land, moors, areas of outstanding natural beauty... New cellular towers are seldom built in these areas anyway because there is so little value to be extracted from them. And even if they did want to build the areas out, planning permission in these areas is notoriously difficult to obtain.

Personally I think what the carriers are speaking of is a bull shit excuse.

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Yes because capitalist must capitalize on someone... But you have a valid point. Why would a company build mast if it has to share them. The only answer is to... Nationalize all cell phone mast. Give everyone a level playing field. This would free up HUGE amounts of capital for capitalist to capitalize in other ways... Of course we'd need a way to make socialism the new "It" thing.

@Lantesh - wait so what has been holding them back so far? By that logic, rural areas should have coverage just as good as a densely populated city. Face it. carriers haven't been doing the job out in the boonies so someone needs to light a fire under their well paid arses.

Socialism will never be the next "it" thing. It has never worked no matter how many times it has been tried.

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That's no reason to give up! That just makes you a quitter! If at first you don't succeed, try, try again....

I await the day the bubble burst and all the "Too Big Too Fail" corporations fail. That will be a day we hear the calls of "SOCIALIST UNITE" across the land. Every Mom and Dad will lay down their Fox News banners for a better way. A kinder, gentler way. The way our forefathers, the cavemen lived.

The cavemen had to be socialist. Imagine Donald Trump hunting some 90 foot dinosaur by himself! Can't be done! The hair kept falling off. He needed to get the whole tribe into the act. Hunt together. Share with the entire village. Besides the meat would go bad if you didn't share. It was for the good of the whole. [don't let some little thing about man and dinos not inhabiting the earth at the same time stop you - I heard on Fox News that the world is 83 years old.]

People are idiots. They have no idea that economic freedom perfectly correlates to a country's prosperity. They'd rather believe democrats and republicans have different agendas. Keep watching tv dumb asses.

Oh wise and noble one. Please explain to us idiots how "economic freedom perfectly correlates to a country's prosperity..." Like Mexico. Or India. If by chance you mean the freedom to be poorer as the rich get richer then I agree with you 100%. The freedom to buy your next President. [oh wait, we already do that]. The freedom to make a corporation into a person! Freedom!

I don't live in the UK, but I assume that the issue here is that the providers aren't competing in rural areas in the first place. It looks like the telecom companies don't see enough profit in the rural regions to justify building out their networks out there, so the government is requiring them to pool resources since they're not willing to increase the resources. If that's the case, then it seems reasonable, since the only other alternative is to keep letting rural residents languish with garbage reception.

I hope I didn't misunderstand or grossly oversimplify the issue.

One of the benefits of multiple choice of network is you can pick the one who's speed, coverage and cost meet your needs. I have recently changed from EE to 3. Cheaper contract, faster network (4g meh), signal Meh.. Oh and I chose unlimited data!

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Three has very poor reception in many places though. I can't get signal at home unless I'm upstairs. It only happens with them.

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Then tell them. Especially if you're supposed to be in a high coverage area according to their map. We did this when we had no reception at home, and got a free signal booster from them. Works a treat.

This would never happen in the USA. People are so economically illiterate that they don't understand what capitalism entails, and that companies don't work for the benefit of the people but for their bottom line.

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Yeah, pretty much all carriers lease tower access to other carriers in the US. From the look of this (and as I said in an above comment, I am not all that familiar with the UK mobile situation), the government in the UK is considering forcing carriers to adopt a situation similar (to end-users, anyway) to the way roaming is handled in the US.

There seem to be quite a few people who don't understand that things in the UK don't necessarily operate in the same way they do in the US... thankfully.

Which is not to say the UK is necessarily better, we just screw things up in slightly different ways.

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What ever happened to the younger generation questioning the government. Seems to be a socialist movement going on and everything that is spoon fed by governments is lapped right up. It seems government interference or solutions is the norm of the day. Every thing they get there hands on will have unforseen consequences in the future. Question everything.
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You tell 'em Erik! All these dang blasted socialist taking over the government! These blasted socialist FORCING us to pay for police and fire departments and yee GAD - THE MILITARY! George Washington is rolling over in his GRAVE knowing that this country has become a quagmire of socialist scum! And now they want to force us to be healthy by forcing dang blasted heath care down out throats? That's the final straw! I'm an AMERICAN! If I don't want to be healthy, that's my gosh given right! How dare Barry Obama try and make an get Republican health care! Over my dead rotten sickly body Barry! And leave my dang guns alone! [I'm in a joking sort of mood today. Please take none of this to heart - I don't mean to offend. Besides, both sides of the 2 party systems is full o crap!]

And that's another thing, everyone has such thin skin. The good old days you could offend people. Ha
I better get back to work, one of my nine bosses is coming.

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