Mobile Coverage Improvements Could Benefit SMEs

Government Pledges Improvements To Service

11.11.2014

Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has pledged its commitment to improving mobile phone coverage in the UK to ensure everyone can access an adequate signal to make calls and send texts, regardless of where in the country they are based.

In particular, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) located in more rural parts of Britain could be set to benefit from this improvement in communications and infrastructure.

Figures show that one-fifth of the country cannot currently use their phones to make a call, meaning consumers and businesses alike are affected. For smaller firms who may not have a big budget for technology, this could prove a significant hindrance to their progress and ability to compete in the market.

These affected areas are often referred to as 'notspots' and may have some coverage from EE, Three, O2 or Vodafone, but this can be patchy, irregular and inconsistent.

In addition, depending on a person's location and particular network, they may not be able to use their phone at all. Not only does this pose problems for business communication, but also for people's safety in emergency situations.

Research carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses discovered that 71 per cent of firms in the UK saw mobile phones as very important to their company, but 51 per cent reported experiencing problems relating to coverage.

In light of this, the government has launched a consultation to explore how these so-called notspots can be eliminated for good, with options for this including reforming virtual networks and enabling national roaming.

Interested parties have until Wednesday November 26th to submit their views on the options outlined in the consultation document.

Culture secretary Sajid Javid commented: "Businesses have been clear about the importance of mobile phones, and improved coverage will help deliver jobs and economic security.

"I'm determined to ensure the UK has world-class mobile phone coverage, as investment in infrastructure will help drive this government's long-term economic plan."

Expert Opinion
Access to internet and communication services are an absolute requisite for businesses, with such systems being a particular necessity for SMEs. Smaller firms often require online platforms in order to compete with larger rivals, so not being able to access such services can be a major disadvantage.

"It is vital that steps are taken to ensure that no businesses or communities face such issues and it is welcome to see the Government committing to tackling this issue.

"Once online, we would urge SMEs to consider speak to lawyers to ensure they have their houses in order in terms of compliance with data regulations related to their own and consumer information."
Steven Beahan, Partner