Ofcom launches probe into network coverage numbers

Ofcom launches probe into network coverage numbers

Busy, busy Ofcom has announced it is to investigate Vodafone and EE for allegedly giving inaccurate figures concerning mobile coverage areas. According to Ofcom there are reasonable grounds for believing, ‘that each operator has failed to comply with its obligations under sections 135 and 136 of the Communications Act 2003.’

The sections of the Communications Act 2003 require comms providers to ‘provide accurate information upon request, in a designated format, and within a reasonable time period.’

With Vodafone, Ofcom believes they had ‘under predicted’ its 800Hz/4G coverage’ particularly when it came to rural areas. Vodafone has disputed this.

It appears that we may have been inadvertently under-reporting the extent of our 4G network coverage. This is because the data we have been submitting is adjusted to reflect the signal customers actually receive on their mobile phones.

This is the data we use internally to access customer coverage, whereas Ofcom reports on the theoretical strength of the signal at the location of the handset.

The good news is that using Ofcom’s measurement, our geographic coverage is up to 10% higher.

- Simon Gordon: Senior Media Relations Manager, Vodafone

Likewise, Ofcom is investigating whether EE had over-predicted the extent of its 3G coverage when it responded to Ofcom’s request for information.

We’ve already updated our 3G coverage map in line with feedback from Ofcom, with only minor changes to the predicted overage levels for our 3G network in some areas. Both our 2G and 4G networks are far larger overall, and we have been in more places than 3G since 2016.

This means our customers would have voice coverage in these areas and there would have only been a difference in predicted data coverage for a very small number of customers in specific areas.

We apologise for any confusion this may have caused, and we continue to work to give our customers the most accurate view of the coverage available to them so that they can make an informed decision about their choice of mobile network.

This includes new ways to measure actual coverage experience, rather than predicted, such as tracking the time spent on 4G for individuals, all to help and inform and continually improve our network performance across the UK.

- Press statement: EE

The probe follows the £70,000 fine imposed on BT Openreach earlier this year after the regulator came to the conclusion BT had supplied incorrect information about Wholesale Local Access.

Ofcom conducts network testing as well as collating data from the networks themselves. But experts have longed argued that the networks information is insufficient to give a true picture of the UK’s cellular coverage.

Image: Acabashi


A veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.
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