back to article UK.gov binds mobe operators to £5bn not-spot deal

Blighty’s government has announced a new deal with the top four mobe operators in the country to improve the state of so-called mobile roaming "not-spots". Culture secretary Sajid Javid announced a binding agreement with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, meaning they will tackle poor signal issues in certain areas by investing £5bn …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Competition is great (except when it isn't)

    "the mobe firms were vociferously against the idea of letting their competitors install transmitters on their masts"

    Wtf?

    I thought O2/Vodafone had been joined at the hip in terms of sharing that kind of infrastructure (project Cornerstone) for a couple of years now? I thought Ofcon knew about it too?

    E.g.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/06/07/vodafonica/ (come back Bill, The Register needs you)

    And the same for EE/Three (the same Bill Ray article mentions EE and Three sharing almost twenty thousand sites).

    Error in report, or mobe companies lying to HMG, or both?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Competition is great (except when it isn't)

      All of them are joined at the hip by a hip called Arquiva - they own a large percentage of cell sites (probably a majority of the ones needed for 900MHz coverage).

      Project cornerstone was about sharing the remaining few which are owned by one (or another operator).

      In any case - wake me up when the national coverage covenant includes data. Before that it is interesting only for "Talk to me" Dave and his cronies - the ones that need to talk to another country president on Xmas eve over mobile.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Arqiva: see also CrownCastle???

        Is there a connection between Arqiva and Crowncastle (in the UK), whose names I both remember as providers of transmission sites and facilities for various folks? I had a quick dig and couldn't work out wtf was going on.

        Anyway, this whole idea that mobile operators don't want to share is farcical. They're perfectly happy to share **as long as it makes them more money**. Sharing to improve Quality of Service is not on their agenda.

        1. Deej

          Re: Arqiva: see also CrownCastle???

          I may be wrong, but aren't Arqiva and Crowncastle (UK) the same entity now?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Arqiva: see also CrownCastle???

            "aren't Arqiva and Crowncastle (UK) the same entity now?"

            That was indeed my initial belief. However, the more I looked for a simple definitive current answer, the more confused I got.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Arqiva: see also CrownCastle???

              Short history

              IBA broken up and Engineering division Privatised as National Transcommunications Limited (Known as NTL) NTL Bought by CableTel But used NTL name for Cable TV and ex IBA operations, NTL Merge cable division with Telewest, Engineering division divested to become Arqiva and cable division licenced Virgin name from Mr Beardie weirdie.

              BBC Transmission privatised as CTI becomes Crown Castle UK with a US merger sold to National Grid to form NGW "merged" with Arqiva

              Not sure Arqiva have the vast Majority of the Mobile sites they are certainly the biggest non operator but the operators hold a lot of sites in their own portfolios.

        2. MarkDelaney

          Re: Arqiva: see also CrownCastle???

          Originally the transmitter masts were owned by the BBC. When commercial television began it was decided to spin off the transmitter part of the BBC into Crown Castle.

          Crown Castle was purchased many years later by NGW (National Grid Wireless). (Based near the old Marconi offices in Warwick/Coventry area)

          NGW was eventually purchased by Arquiva.

          .... so they are all the same company.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Competition is great (except when it isn't)

      Yes, plenty of sharing going on already, so I assume it means they don't want operators they don't have agreements with getting space on the mast.

      In any case, I thought their main beef was the roaming rather than mast sharing, since it creates a poor user experience and allows operators to get access without investment.

  2. Owain 1

    69 per cent to 85 per cent of Blighty

    Is that geographical, or population? Not much point in sticking a mast in the middle of nowhere just for the occasional hiker?

    1. A Twig

      Re: 69 per cent to 85 per cent of Blighty

      So mobco hated the national roaming idea so much they were prepared to invents £5bn to avoid it!?

      Sounds like the national roaming must have been a good idea then!

  3. Otto is a bear.

    Mrs Bear has her knitting needles out.

    The proof will be in the implementation, when we will find out how much wool was needed to cover Ofcom's eyes.

    The deal as I understand it is 85% of the Land Area, but who knows what quality of service they will provide, do you want to bet that the leafy villages of the Chilterns and Downs which get variable signals will still get the same service, because they already have a service. The operators were never going to agree to forced mast sharing, as that would decrease the value of their existing assets and drive down any fees they could charge for sharing. They already know it makes sense, and limited cooperation also makes sense, but in their book, it's the sharing deal that's important. I suspect the planning and backhaul costs will be the determining factor in the uptake and roll out speed.

  4. Cynical Shopper

    Reuse, reduce, recycle

    "Calls and texts"? Looks like they've found a use for the old 2G kit they remove when they install 4G in cities. Welcome to the 90s, bumpkins!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reuse, reduce, recycle

      Looks like they've found a use for the old 2G kit they remove when they install 4G in cities

      From what I've heard from one operator, the roll-out of 4G is being used to modernise and standardise all their cells. This will ensure all cells support 2G, 3G *and* 4G. The roll-out of 4G will also enhance uplink bandwidth too.

      Also, there's a lot of kit that only works with 2G. I've seen plenty of credit card machines only work with 2G rather than 3G, so I don't think 2G is going to be switched off too soon.

  5. MrMur

    If this was such a good thing for the operators, why did the government need to be involved and what's the need of a legally binding agreement?

  6. Ian 62

    Legally binding or not?

    Not sure if its only me that spotted the disparity in the report on the BBC?

    ""I am pleased to have secured a legally binding deal with the four mobile networks," said Culture Secretary Sajid Javid."

    One vote for legally binding.

    A Vodafone spokes person 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."

    One vote for voluntary.

    Am betting we'll see some spin on this in a couple of years time with some he said, she said, you said.

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