London: Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA, offered the following statement in response to the UK Government’s consultation “Tackling Partial Not-Spots in Mobile Phone Coverage”:

“The GSMA believes there are alternative solutions for tackling the issue of partial not-spots in the UK outside of mandated national roaming, which is technically complex, expensive and would impede law enforcement activities. Most importantly, as such a scheme is likely to result in issues making, receiving and maintaining calls, we need to look at other ways of ensuring that the consumer experience is continually enhanced.

“Mobile communications are an essential part of everyday life, with 3.6 billion unique mobile subscribers and 7.2 billion connections globally. Mobile has had a profound impact on all aspects of life, from simply allowing people to communicate with each other, to providing access to services such as education, healthcare and financial services. In the UK alone, the mobile industry made a direct contribution to the economy of £13.5 billion in 2013; around one per cent of GDP.

“We are concerned that mandated national roaming would limit incentives for investment in future mobile network infrastructure, in turn restricting future socio-economic growth. Research from Capital Economics1 suggests that it could lead to a reduction in industry capital expenditure by £360 to £440 million each year, reducing GDP by 0.1 to 0.2 per cent.  Furthermore, the report finds that the current rapid rollout of 4G in the UK could be delayed by 18 to 24 months as resources are diverted to implement national roaming, just as increasing numbers of the population are starting to enjoy the benefits of 4G.

“The GSMA proposes a number of key actions to enable voluntary coverage expansion to address the issue of partial not-spots. In particular, we urge the Government and Ofcom to:

  • Reassess the level of annual spectrum charges to ensure that hundreds of millions of pounds can be diverted back to vital investment in network infrastructure.
  • Reform the Electronic Communications Code (ECC), which governs the right of UK operators to access land to deploy infrastructure toincrease the speed and extent to which UK operators can voluntarily reduce partial not-spots.

“In conclusion, we believe the solution to tackling partial not-spots is through continued investment in our mobile networks, enabled by a favourable regulatory environment. In our commitment to ensuring the best possible consumer experience, the GSMA and its members are actively engaged in a range of ongoing initiatives aimed at improving 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and the capability of mobile infrastructure, both in the UK and around the world.”


Notes to Editors
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The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai and the Mobile 360 Series conferences.

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