Telecommunications network operator 24 Seven Communications Ltd has developed a new service, which allows mobile users to jump between networks – the first network operator to launch a national roaming product in the UK. The service, which will search out the strongest signal from a group of major Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), will offer users improved network coverage and help eliminate so-called ‘not-spots’ where individual operator network signals are poor.

The product has been developed as a new SIM card, which instead of being tied to just one network, will be able to roam a number of providers, searching for the best signal. Until now, mobile operators have come in for criticism from Ofcom and the Government, for their lack of clarity on national roaming. This product proves that the technology exists in practice, not just in concept.

24 Seven is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) meaning that the business can provide all of the functions and services of traditional MNOs but with fewer infrastructure burdens. As a part of this new service, 24 Seven will have complete oversight and control of the SIM cards, from provisioning to billing and offering various other services including real time data reporting from the SIM activity. This is all supported by 24 Seven’s existing infrastructure network, systems and experienced team.

David Samuel, Managing Director of 24 Seven Communications Ltd said: “National roaming has been a subject passed between mobile network operators and paid lip-service for many years. Surely in this day and age, technology providers owe the public a more reliable mobile signal? We’ve taken the initiative with this new and innovative product, which will allow mobile users greater freedom, better reliability and improved connection.”

“Mobile reception affects so many areas of life. Businesses in particular could stand to lose out on millions of pounds due to poor signal strength or feeble network coverage. This affects all businesses to some extent, whether they are based in rural or urban locations. Our system seeks out the best signal strength, and automatically connects the user via that network. We anticipate it being extremely beneficial to ‘coverage-critical’ industries, such as lone workers, nurses and doctors, asset tracking, vehicle tracking and numerous other services, but ultimately the service is of benefit to anyone who wants better signal.”

It has been estimated that 20% of the UK suffers from an unreliable mobile phone signal and this can be down to a number of factors, including geography and network coverage. According to research, this can result in British user’s having no signal 15% of the time. However, in areas where signal strength is poor, reception is often available from one of the four main network providers. Until now, there has been no process or procedure to jump to a better signal strength, unless making emergency calls, leading to frustration and loss of earning for those involved.

There has been an increasing sense of frustration from the Government on progress with national roaming. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has asked the ‘big four’ network operators to look into the issue, but has since received little by the way of positive response. In November 2014, the department signaled its intention to put further pressure on network operators to develop roaming services. 24 Seven’s service uses one of the big four operator’s signal as a ‘host’ with a further two networks available as back up, for when the host signal is not strong enough.

24 Seven is the first network operator to launch a national roaming product. The system works on a similar premise to roaming for available networks while abroad. Ironically, individuals with non-UK network providers can often enjoy better signal coverage than UK users, who are tied to one network. This product rebalances that situation and allows users to find the strongest signal mobile reception. The poor state of mobile reception in the UK came to further prominence in 2014 when the Prime Minister complained of poor mobile reception, whilst on holiday in Cornwall. This led him to pledge to find an answer to mobile ‘not-spots’ – which this service directly addresses.

The system has been developed primarily with business users in mind, who can often find that mobile reception is business critical. This has become an increasingly important factor as the use of mobile phones in the business arena has become more widespread, aligned with ‘remote’ working, and the death of traditional landline ‘PBX’ exchange systems.

The service has been developed over the past twelve months with a specialist technology partner, and will be rolled out in November, allowing for instantly improved mobile reliability. As the device is SIM based, it will work on any mobile device, including mobile enabled tablets, smartphones, iPhones and Blackberry handsets.

24 Seven has recently developed a new strategy, which will see an increased focus on streamlining telecommunications systems for companies to increase efficiency, whilst combatting older technology left over as a legacy from out of date practices. This includes developing new products and services to meet changing business demands, particularly in the mobile market.