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UK operators reportedly reject network sharing

Ericsson and Quallcomm partner on carrier aggregation

Despite growing demand for better mobile coverage in rural Britain from the public and the government, UK carriers have rejected national network sharing, an idea trumpeted by the Culture, Media and Sport Minister Savid Javid.

In much the same way as international roaming, national network sharing would allow mobile users to switch to another network in so called ‘not-spots’, areas where their own provider doesn’t have coverage.

As reported by the Financial Times, the Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey wrote to operators to get an agreement in place by the beginning of next year but the proposal was cast off by an industry source as “unworkable and undesirable in principle”. Vaizey has reportedly responded by asking operators, who insist they remain committed to bettering UK’s voice services, to come forward with other ideas to solve the issue.

The idea of network sharing has been criticised for de-incentivising carriers from investing in building new network infrastructure in poor coverage areas, and removing part of the industry’s competitive edge. In some other markets such as in Finland operators have, however, agreed on network sharing.

One option is sharing the masts used for transmitting signals but others are suggesting relying on Wifi more heavily is the way to go. “Wifi is now an essential part of our smartphone and tablet-enabled lifestyle. Today, more than two thirds of our monthly wireless data is consumed over Wifi, and all signs are that this proportion will continue to grow,” says David Nowicki, CMO at Devicescape, a Wifi service platform provider.

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According to Nowicki, operators are not doing enough in terms of Wifi based calls and texts: “What’s really needed is automated connection to all available Wifi – home, work and public access or amenity hotspots provided by businesses and public bodies all over the world,” he said. “What the consumer wants is the best available connection. They don’t care if that’s on the cellular network or via a Wifi hotspot, but they really don’t want to be bothering with a convoluted log on or authentication process before they even start dialling.”

Operators are not keen on the idea of national roaming but it is clear that something needs to be done to ensure better mobile connection is available across the country. Operators have said the on-going 4G roll-out will help get rid of a lot of the non-coverage areas.


2 comments

  1. Roya 08/10/2014 @ 4:56 pm

    Yes, but are operators aware of “Spectrum sharotage” that they will face with in about 6 years?

  2. Auri Aittokallio Auri Aittokallio 08/10/2014 @ 5:17 pm

    I think operators are aware of the challenges related to spectrum. But I suppose they don’t want to go down this road in solving the issue if they can avoid it.

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