Operators not required to provide coverage
The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority no longer requires mobile operators to build out and improve their network despite the many pockets throughout the country that have no coverage at all, reports Swedish Radio news.
Anders Fjällström, a first responder who works in the Swedish mountains, says if you live in a rural area outside of a big city it can be a big problem. “It’s definitely a safety issue. A very dangerous safety question,” he says.
When Swedish Radio’s program Kaliber visited Norra Fjällnäs and its neighboring town Björkbacken the telephones had not been working for four days. During that time residents had no way to reach the outside world – they could not even reach the emergency number 112. “If you don’t have coverage so you can reach emergency services than of course it’s a major problem,” Fjällström says.
Several of Sweden’s large mobile operators’ coverage maps show that residents should be able to ring from these two towns. But when Kaliber visited it was impossible to make a call.
Hans G Larsson, mobile operator Telia’s spokesperson, says the promised coverage is based on theoretical calculations that work in the best case scenario. He says Telia does not continue to invest in rural areas because it is hard to make a return on the investment.
Since 2009, the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority has required mobile operators to maintain the status quo – the agency does not ask companies to build out or improve mobile coverage.
“When it comes to mobile coverage people don’t have a right to get it and it’s not our responsibility to see that there’s 100 percent coverage in Sweden. That would have to be a political decision,” says Urban Landmark, at the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority.