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UK operators to share network in rural areas

Like international roaming, networks will allow consumers to switch between operators

Step 2: How to combat signal strength issues

UK mobile operators are in talks with the government to share networks in the hope the whole country will be covered by mobile phone signal.

At the moment, some parts of rural England only have access to one or two mobile phone networks, but the new deal means devices would automatically roam, or switch networks, to give consumers the strongest coverage possible.

The plans have been proposed by Culture Secretary Sajid Javid who said he'd like to see a system similar to international roaming introduced, where your device switches between networks according to which has the most reliable signal. 

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told the BBC the government was investing 150m to bring better coverage to the whole of the UK.

A DCMS spokesman said: "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...of course we want to look at what more can be done in areas with poor coverage."

However, UK networks are opposed to the plans, saying it would stop them from improving infrastructure, such as erecting new masts in rural areas. Operators also claim it could have knock-on effects for consumers, forcing them to increase prices as profitability is reduced.

Three said although it plans to bring mobile phone coverage to 98 per cent of the UK population in the near future, it supports the government's plans to address the issue of poor coverage.

"We support the principle of expanding coverage to address areas less well served and are in discussions with government about the most effective means to deliver that," the network said in a statement.

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