Goverment want to sort out mobile blackholes

5 November 2014

mobile There's places in Britain where it is nigh-on impossible to get a connection on your mobile, which is preposterous seeing as so many of us rely on them for work, socialising and sending weird and threatening messages to complete strangers on Twitter.

Well, the government plans to kick mobile operators up the arse in a bid to improve their coverage. One thing that is being looked at, is rivals sharing their networks with each other. These connection blackholes are being referred to as 'notspots', which means that some places have coverage from some operators, but not all.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid: "It can't be right that in a fifth of the UK, people cannot use their phones to make a call. The government isn't prepared to let that situation continue."

So what proposals are being offered? For starters, they want the national roaming mentioned earlier, where operators share their network. They also want to see infrastructure sharing where networks would be able to put transmitters on each other's masts. They also want to bring in a 'coverage obligation', which would see networks agreeing to cover a certain percentage of the UK, but the operators would decide how to do it between themselves.

The government has given the industry, businesses and the public until 26th November to respond to their proposals.

However, there's some resistance to these ideas. A leaked letter from Whitehall shows that Home Secretary Theresa May isn't happy with this idea because roaming networks might make it difficult for the government to spy on people's phone activity. Of course, what they're saying is that they'll find it hard to track criminals and terrorists, but we all know what that means.

The letter says: "[It] could have a detrimental impact on law enforcement, security and intelligence agency access to communications data and lawful intercept", adding that more research is needed to ensure that this won't make things troublesome for police to access information about calls and emails that is "crucial to keeping us safe".

Of course, there's some annoying elements to this for the phone-haver too. Roaming hammers your mobile's battery and there's a very strong chance that operators would include charges for anyone switching to another network. We'll just have to wait and see what everyone has up their sleeves on this, but a solution that works for everyone is not something you should hold your breath about.

TOPICS:   Technology   Mobile

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