The UK government is studying a scheme to use national roaming as a means to boost coverage in rural areas, according to the BBC.
Under the proposal, UK operators would enable users to switch to another network if their own was not available.
However operators argue such a system would remove their motivation to build more masts to improve coverage.
Although it is not spelled out in the report, presumably operators would exchange roaming fees as users move between their networks.
The idea is backed by new culture secretary Sajid Javid.
Back in 2011, the government announced a £150 million spend on pushing out coverage in the UK to more rural areas.
A mobile industry source told the BBC the government might be able to force leading operators to share their networks using current legislation.
The only operator quoted in the piece was Three, which said it supported the principle of expanding coverage to less well-served areas and is talking to the government. Three is the latest entrant to the UK market and has previously enabled roaming onto rivals’ networks.
“The government has made clear it wants to ensure the UK has world-class mobile phone coverage as part of our investment in infrastructure for the long-term economic plan,” said a government spokesman.