UK proposal could prevent "Apple SIM" carrier backlash

TelecomsTech reported this week that not all carriers in the U.S are happy about Apple's new SIM. The new card, which ships with Cupertino's latest iPad Air, promises customers the ability to switch to rival networks on-the-fly to ensure coverage and the best rates.

AT&T has decided they won't support the plan, whilst Sprint will only allow use of their network if you've bought the device you are using from one of their stores. Frankly, the whole situation is a mess, and one Apple could struggle to fix unless legislation forces carriers to allow customers to switch networks...

In the UK, that's exactly what a new proposal suggests. Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, is considering new legislation that would require providers to introduce network “roaming” across Britain and allow customers to switch networks when they have no signal from their usual provider.

Consultation will begin this week on the reform, after the main cell phone operators failed to reach a voluntary agreement on improving coverage where reception is poor. If an agreement isn't met, a Whitehall source says: "If these companies do not change, we might force them to change."

Unreliable network coverage plagues an estimated million people across the UK in so-called "partial not-spots" which are areas where some mobile networks provide signal that customers of those who do not cannot access. In a separate promise, ministers have said they intend to provide £150 million to fund "hundreds" of new masts to provide coverage to rural areas.

In the U.S, AT&T spokesperson Mark Siegel explained why the telecoms giant would not be supporting on-device carrier switching: “With us you can change carriers with this iPad any time you want. It is an unlocked device. All you have to do is switch out the SIM in the device so it works on another carrier.”

When asked why the operator would force customers to go through this process, Siegel responded: “It’s just simply the way we’ve chosen to do it.”

T-Mobile's CEO, John Legere, had this to say about AT&T:

It will be interesting to see whether UK carriers are defiant to carrier-switching like AT&T, or embrace the new plans like T-Mobile in the U.S...

Do you support the UK's carrier-switching proposal? Let us know in the comments.

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