A group of MPs in the the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) have proposed in a report titled: “Mobile Coverage: A good call for Britain?” compulsory roaming on mobile operators, as a means of improving rural coverage.
However, ip.access argues that spectrum sharing offers a better alternative to national roaming, and would also provide a blueprint for other countries facing similar challenges.
Malcolm Gordon, CEO of ip.access writes:
“The report identifies 17 million UK customers who experience poor reception at home and 525 areas with non-existent mobile coverage. We recognise the importance of this issue, and strongly believe that regulators and operators should commit to supporting shared spectrum as the most effective approach to connecting the unconnected in rural communities.”
With a shared spectrum system, a single network can be built and then all operators can then offer services on it.
Gordon believes the technical challenges of this are often lower than with localised roaming. And a single network significantly reduces the cost of providing services to a remote area.
“Each mobile operator can still manage subscribers from its core network, differentiating its services and monetising the user, in a way that is impossible in roaming, where the customer is ‘lost’ to a third-party network,” said Gordon.
Gordon proposes that spectrum sharing could make use of small cells. Small cells support multi-operator networks via standards like 3GPP’s MOCN, and can be used to provide cost-effective mobile coverage in remote areas.