Yorkshire MP Kevin Hollinrake urges Government to make mobile phone giants introduce 'roaming' services for rural areas

Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake
Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake
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Seventy-five MPs led by North Yorkshire's Kevin Hollinrake have urged the Government to force mobile phone companies to work closer together so people living in rural areas can get better reception.

In a letter to Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, Mr Hollinrake calls on Ministers to make it a requirement that network operators allow 'roaming', where customers can make calls and access data using networks other than the other they are signed up with.

In some parts of the country, mainly in rural areas such as North Yorkshire, patchy, intermittent coverage means that many people have limited or no access to mobile coverage.

The Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton said that he and the co-signatories of the letter supported the Government’s Strategic Priorities for Ofcom, the telecommunications regulator, which calls on the authority to fully consider the costs and benefits of roaming in rural areas.

Whilst Ofcom has agreed that ‘co-operations of operators’ would improve mobile coverage, the MPs are urging Mr Wright to take it one step further and make it a requirement of network providers to deliver it.

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The letter was signed by Yorkshire MPs including Don Valley's Caroline Flint, Rotherham's Sarah Champion, York Outer's Julian Sturdy, Batley & Spen's Tracy Brabin and Barnsley's Dan Jarvis.

It says: “A lack of co-ordination between the network providers has left many rural areas covered by some but not all the networks.

"This is hampering economic, educational and leisure opportunities for residents in rural areas and remains a significant brake on growth for the local, regional and national economy.

"The introduction of roaming services between networks will vastly increase the operational coverage for many of our constituents.”

The Government has pledged to ensure that there is mobile coverage for 95 per cent of the UK by 2022, but this will still leave many areas without a workable signal, says Mr Hollinrake.

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: "We've made major changes to regulation and planning laws, making it cheaper and easier for industry to rollout or share masts.

The Secretary of State has been clear that mobile companies now need to act on these reforms and deliver better coverage across rural areas.

"Improving mobile coverage in rural areas is a priority for us and we are considering all of the options available to us, including rural roaming, to facilitate this."