The head of UK regulator Ofcom argued the high cost of expanding mobile coverage to the entire land mass of the country means the task would be best handled by a single operator.
Speaking at Connected Britain event in London today (19 June), Ofcom CEO Sharon White (pictured) said technical recommendations delivered by the regulator to the government revealed the cost of expanding mobile coverage to current “not spots” stood at around $6 billion.
“As we get beyond 92 per cent coverage and potentially towards 100 per cent, extending coverage means building mobile masts in areas where there are no mobile signals,” she said.
“Our view is some form of cross-subsidy would be needed to achieve this. To keep costs down, we also believe there is a strong case to contracting a single operator to build and operate masts where there currently are none.”
During the session she added to reach the “ambitious goal” of comprehensive coverage would also require further easing of planning regulations.
In addition to providing advice to the government on acheiving complete coverage for the UK’s land mass, White added the regulator aimed to improve the percentage of the UK able to get “comprehensive” mobile coverage from every mobile operator.
She added a quarter of the UK’s mass still lacked this ability, including across much of the country’s road network.
In a thinly disguised barb at Vodafone Group’s announcement it was going to supply a 4G network on the Lunar surface, she added: “I don’t want to discourage some of the current plans to get a 4G signal on the moon, but at the same time I was very conscious one can’t get a decent 4G signal on the A70”, a road running across central Scotland.