Government ignores providers to push through mobile roaming plan

Mobile users who find that their smartphone signal disappears in the countryside will be pleased that the government has decided to push through its national roaming laws.

Under the new rules customers will be able to switch to a rival network with the best connection if theirs fails while out and about. As a further part of the plan EE, O2, Three and Vodafone will be required to share mobile phone masts in rural areas.

Related: Ofcom: Rural customers not satisfied with UK phone coverage

"We're keen on a national roaming plan," an unnamed government source told The Sunday Times. "We've talked to the mobile phone networks and told them to come up with a plan. The Secretary of State is pretty frustrated that they have failed to do so."

The plans were first mentioned in June, when the big networks reportedly dismissed them outright. They raised concerns that forcing multiple networks to share masts would result in their decreased construction, leading to an overall poorer coverage in rural areas.

"We've given them numerous opportunities to find a solution," added the government insider. "The lack of movement from the mobile phone operators means we now need a legislative option to deal with the issue of partial 'notspots' (areas of low to no coverage)."

See more: Will national roaming solve our mobile signal problems?

The new plan aims to benefit more than one million people and around 20 per cent of the UK where mobile signals are low or non-existent. Network operators have labelled roaming plans as expensive and predict that its implementation will lead to higher bills and disruption for their customers.