Mobile phone 'not-spots' to improve by 2017
An agreement between the government and the UK's largest mobile phone networks to guarantee coverage in 90% of the country has been announced.
Mobile phone networks EE, O2, Three and Vodafone are to invest £5 billion by 2017 to tackle the problem of "not-spots" - parts of the country where customers get no reception at all.
The project, brought about by a government deal, will see full coverage from all four operators increase from 69% currently to 85% of geographical areas, while the number of complete not spots will reduce by almost two-thirds.
Partial not spots - areas where people get some coverage - will reduce by half.
Culture secretary Sajid Javid said: "Too many parts of the UK regularly suffer from poor mobile coverage leaving them unable to make calls or send texts.
"Government and businesses have been clear about the importance of mobile connectivity, and improved coverage, so this legally binding agreement will give the UK the world-class mobile phone coverage it needs and deserves."
Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, said: "We support the government's action to improve mobile coverage for the millions of consumers left frustrated by being unable to connect to a network. We now need to see swift action from the mobile phone companies, with financial penalties if they fail to deliver their commitments, to start putting 'not spots' to an end."
Derek McManus, chief operating officer of O2, said the deal will also support investment in its network, while ensuring "strong competition remains between the different networks".
The deal follows a government consultation launched in November to try to improve coverage. It will be enforced by regulator Ofcom.