By Jonathan Davies
Mobile network operators and the government have reached an agreement to improve mobile coverage across the UK.
EE, O2, Three and Vodafone will invest £5 billion by 2017 and guarantee coverage for 90% of the UK.
The move should mean that so-called "not-spots", where people can't receive signal or it is patchy, are reduced. The government said it should reduce them by two-thirds
"I am pleased to have secured a legally binding deal with the four mobile networks," said Culture Secretary Sajid Javid.
"Too many parts of the UK regularly suffer from poor mobile coverage leaving them unable to make calls or send texts."
Olaf Swantee, chief executive of EE, said: "This agreement ensures that our customers are able to stay connected in even more places up and down the country."
A Vodafone UK spokesperson said: "The voluntary industry commitment we have agreed with the government today will deliver 90% of the UK's land mass with voice services and a major improvement in mobile internet coverage as well.
"It is a great result for UK consumers and businesses and it will make the UK a leader across Europe in terms of the reach of mobile coverage."
Adrian Baschnonga, Lead Telecoms Analyst at EY, said: “Today’s agreement to boost mobile network coverage represents a boon for phone users nationwide. Despite the availability of ever faster 4G services, unreliable rural coverage levels have threatened to undermine improvements to the UK’s digital infrastructure. Initial proposals to solve the issue by allowing customers to switch networks presented a number of logistical challenges, and the promise of additional operator investment helps preserve the existing competitive environment. However, complete geographical coverage remains highly challenging — under current plans, the number of mobile data ‘not spots’ will only be halved by 2017.”
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