UK planning 3G and 4G mobile signal that works whatever your network

Mobile networks not keen on the idea of sharing phone masts with rivals, but for customers it’d mean stronger 3G and 4G reception in more places, more of the time…

If you've often struggled to get a decent mobile signal, particularly if you live in a rural area, you may soon benefit from government plans to improve UK mobile coverage.

Culture secretary Sajid Javid wants the 'big four' mobile networks - EE, O2, Three and Vodafone - to introduce roaming at home as well as abroad. The idea's that it'll help to plug gaps in mobile coverage, not least in more remote parts of the country.

In theory, it'd mean that when you can't get a signal on your network, your phone will automatically 'roam' to a different network that does provide reception in the area.

Mobile networks are likely to be strongly opposed to the idea of sharing masts.

A spokesman from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said: "We're investing up to £150million to improve mobile coverage in areas where there's currently no coverage from any of the mobile network operators.

"Of course, we want to look at what more can be done in areas with poor coverage."

Roaming at home kind of makes sense. If whilst on holiday we can roam onto foreign networks, why should we limited to only one network's signal when in this country?

The main hurdle's no doubt rivalry between networks. In some parts of the country, networks actually share masts already - but if mobile networks had Facebook accounts, their relationship status would be "it's complicated".

For example, EE, which has invested huge amounts in the UK's biggest 4G network, might think it's unfair to let anyone's customers roam onto it. Improved coverage should be good for customers, though - as long as prices don't jump as a result.

The government's £150million investment is already helping to ensure that 3G or 4G mobile internet is available to at least 98% of the population by the end of 2015.

So, if your mobile reception's rubbish, it might be soon to improve in any case - even if these new plans fail to materialise. In the meantime, you'll get more a reliable service if you switch to a 3G or 4G network with better coverage in your area.

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