Mobile phone users in the UK should be allowed to move between networks in areas with a poor signal, a group of MPs have claimed.
In a report, the British Infrastructure Group, led by Conservative chairman Grant Shapps, lambasted the government for not doing enough to address so-called 'not spots' in the UK, claiming that British citizens should have access to roaming features, which would allow them to move between networks in the way that foreign users can.
The report said: "In the 21st century this is completely unacceptable and the government should rapidly aim for universal mobile phone coverage throughout the UK.
"It is absurd that visitors to the UK receive better and broader mobile coverage, because foreign SIM cards enable roaming across national networks.
"In contrast, there is no such agreement among our mobile phone providers for Britons."
The government pledged to work with the main four UK network operators last year to give coverage to at least 90 per cent of the UK by the end of December 2017.
Darren Seward, head of mobility at distributor Westcoast, said that partnerships are already in place between the big four network operators.
"Each network is fairly protective of their network; that's their value-add to their customers," he said. "But you've already got network-sharing agreements in terms of EE and 3 - Vodafone and O2 have one as well."
In response to the report, Mobile UK, the trade association for UK mobile operators, said that UK network operators are "working competitively" to meet these demands, but stopped short of accepting that data roaming is the best way to address the issues.
It claimed that introducing network roaming would discourage investment from network operators because it would make commercial sense to "hang back" from investing in infrastructure and pay a competitor to use their service instead.
A representative for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "We know how frustrating poor mobile coverage can be, which is why we made it a legal requirement for each of the mobile network operators to provide coverage to at least 90 per cent of the UK by the end of next year.
"We are taking further action through the Digital Economy Bill currently going through Parliament, which will give the regulator Ofcom the power to issue hefty fines to mobile phone companies which fail to deliver improvements.
"We're also making it easier and cheaper to roll out new mobile infrastructure to help tackle not-spots and deliver the connectivity people need, wherever they are in the country."
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