Alan Reid, MP for Argyll and Bute, has called for much quicker repair times for faults to mobile phone networks and fines for those companies which fail to meet targets.
Mr Reid had welcomed the news that the government has secured a binding agreement with mobile phone companies, which have agreed to invest at least £5 billion pounds to extend coverage and improve signal strength over the next three years. This deal will result in cutting total ‘not-spots’ where there is currently no mobile coverage by two-thirds.
But Mr Reid said, “A mobile phone network is no good to anyone if it’s not working and the companies involved must drastically improve the time it takes to repair network faults.”
He was speaking after being told that a fault in Vodafone’s signal to the Argyll islands that occurred on December 11 still hasn’t been fully repaired. The original fault affected Mull, Islay, Jura, Tiree and Colonsay.
Repair work has been carried out and some customers have been able to make and receive calls, but others are still experiencing problems. According to Vodafone on January 6, “We’re experiencing some performance issues which are leading to some dropped calls”.
Mr Reid had raised the same issue in the House of Commons last July after it had taken 18 days for a mobile phone network fault on Islay to be repaired.
Leader of the House of Commons, William Hague, replied: “Eighteen days does seem unusually long and an unacceptable time for such repair.” Mr Hague also undertook to raise the matter with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Mr Reid will now be raising the matter again with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the regulator Ofcom.
He says: “The extra investment extending mobile phone coverage is great news, but repairs are just as important. Having to wait nearly a month to get a fault fully repaired is just not acceptable. Ofcom and the Government should impose target times for repairs to be carried out and fine companies if they fail to meet these targets.”