UK's mobile and broadband need full overhaul

Urgent and radical action is needed to improve services Lord Adonis said and Ofcom and the government should “put all options on the table”

At a time when mobile access has become a necessary service it is still hard to place a phone call over cellular networks in some areas, said the NIC's chair, Lord Adonis, in an open letter to Ofcom.

The head of the National Infrastructure Commission has demanded that Ofcom take action over poor mobile phone coverage.

Lord Adonis has written to the telcoms regulator Ofcom, who carried out the study, urging it to take action on the issue, which also found that 1m United Kingdom homes have poor broadband access, and large parts of the United Kingdom still have no 4G coverage.

It is not the first time Lord Adonis has criticised the state of the UK's mobile and broadband services.

The former Oxford academic and Labour transport secretary, who was made a life peer in 2005, said he was concerned that four out of five rural homes had no 4G coverage indoors.

Mobile network operators are expected to provide coverage for 90% of the United Kingdom, but the Connected Nations report shows they're falling short and leaving some people out in the cold when it comes to getting acceptable mobile coverage.


But the NIC chair said the new measure of coverage "demonstrates the need for urgent and radical action to tackle this issue immediately".

The mobile phone networks are developing a new high-speed 5G service, but many areas do not get 4G, which is needed for good access to the internet, or even a robust 3G signal, which is necessary to make calls. Ofcom director Steve Unger said the body is taking steps to deal with poor coverage.

'That's why I want Ofcom as the industry's regulator to urgently take concerted action with Government to tackle this situation.

Digital minister Matt Hancock said there was a "clear need" for rapid improvements.

Even Ofcom agrees, saying it's preparing new rules for operators' licenses.

"We've recently removed outdated restictions, giving mobile operators more freedom to improve their networks including hard-to-reach rural areas", said Hancock. "They should put all possible options on the table - including legal and regulatory changes - to ensure customers can be confident they are will get the service they deserve and pay for".

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