- By Nelima Aktar
Mobile phone users in rural areas have been complaining for some time, that despite the 4G roll-out and network-sharing agreements, signal availability is only getting worse.
One resident explained that it takes up to 5 hours to receive one SMS (text message).
Montgomeryshire AM Russell George, chairman of the cross-party group on digital communications, has called for a meeting of mobile operators in mid Wales.
Residents have reported that their cell service and mobile internet connections have progressively worsened over the past few months.
AM George has called for a concerted effort by mobile operators to tackle signal problems in the region.
“In recent years, we have heard a lot about the launch of new 4G services and new network-sharing agreements between the operators, which are supposed to have improved coverage and speeds, but the reality in some rural areas is that mobile coverage has actually got worse. I believe that mandatory roaming and compulsory sharing of mobile infrastructure are the two most practical solutions which will resolve this issue.”
AM George is hoping to meet with representatives from the mobile operators in November.
Ofcom’s regulatory affairs manager for Wales, Elinor Williams, has said that the problem is due to a programme of mast rationalisation. Mobile phone operators have agreed to share masts and switch off some in order to find out which have the strongest signals.
“They are working out which ones are the most powerful, which services the greatest population and therefore, which ones are the most profitable to them. It’s a programme of hit and miss at the moment, I think. In time it will settle down” she added.
The UK as a whole is no stranger to signal issues all across the main Island. Some residents in Scotland have reported to a poll conducted by The International that the only way they could make or receive calls was to leave their home and walk to the next street.
In the same poll residents across large parts of rural England reported not being able to use a mobile phone at all. Whilst many reported connecting to phone masts tens even hundreds of miles away, leading to residents in Wales incurring roaming charges for connecting to Irish networks and some residents in London and the South East connecting to French networks.
The most concerning thing to come from this is that the police and courts actually incarcerate innocent people with no other evidence other than their location based on mobile signal mast data, which can not even be proved to be accurate to within 200 miles.