Archive for the ‘main operators’ tag
Negotiations of the government and major British networks led to a decision that instead of national roaming main operators promised to spend 5 billion pounds on improving mobile coverage
Recently, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has undertaken to tackle the problem of not-spots in many rural areas of Great Britain. The Department’s initial proposal was to introduce national roaming which meant that consumers would be able to use any available network in areas with low mobile coverage free of charge. Operators were shocked by such an idea and prepared counteroffer as they saw national roaming as a detrimental development that would lead to problems in the industry. Not being able to charge rivals for using their network would mean a great financial loss and would discourage operators from investing in network infrastructure.
After some negotiations with DCMS, main operators, i.e. EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, pledged to invest £5bn together to tackle the problem of not-spots and provide mobile coverage in 90% of the British landmass by 2017. This only includes basic 2G mobile coverage. However, they also promised to increase 3G mobile coverage by 16% so that consumers will be able to access mobile Internet in 85% of the land.
DCMS started to look into poor mobile coverage after many customers criticized four major operators for poor mobile coverage or not having it at all in some parts of the UK. The culture secretary, Sajid Javid, said that both businesses and the government see that mobile connectivity and good mobile coverage are vital for the society and this “legally binding agreement will give the UK the world-class mobile phone coverage”. Javid had to ditch his national roaming plan but securing 5 billion pounds for investment is a great achievement and may make the UK the best-connected country in Europe.
Ofcom’s research revealed that EE not only rules in terms of 4G mobile coverage but also offers the fastest speeds in the country.
Ofcom regularly conducts speed tests to see what the quality of service that operators offer is. This month the watchdog published a research into 4G and 3G performance that checked the quality of mobile coverage of four main mobile operators, i.e. EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. The test was done in five major British cities and included over 200,000 smartphone tests, both indoors and outdoors.
Ofcom checked both download and upload speeds, as well as web browsing speed and latency. All of these factors are important when using mobile Internet, as they ensure the quality of the experience. In terms of download speeds, the average result was just above 15 Mbit/s on 4G which was more than twice as much as on 3G (6.1 Mbit/s). It turned out that O2 and EE offered the best performance, as their average was 15.6 Mbit/s and 18.4 Mbit/s respectively. The result was followed by Vodafone which was just 1Mbit/s below the average and 3G UK was discovered to be the worst performing one with the speeds of roughly 11 Mbit/s. In terms of 3G speeds, again EE opened the list, followed by Vodafone that had just slightly worse result. The last two places were taken by 3G and O2. The results were almost the same in terms of upload speeds. However, the analysis of web-browsing experience showed that Three UK’s network ensures the fastest website loading time.
Ofcom also looked into mobile coverage of these operators. All of the operators showed that their 3G mobile coverage is above 90%, which complies with their terms of licence. In terms of 4G mobile coverage, Ofcom analysed the period between June 2014 and October 2014. The study was based on data provided by operators which was then crosschecked with Ofcom’s own field measurements. The top scorer in this category was again EE. It can boast having 70% of indoor mobile coverage in studied cities, followed by 51% of O2 and Vodafone. Although EE is the best, the biggest improvement was seen in Vodafone’s mobile coverage as it jumped from 37% in June to 51% in October. Due to some technical problems they couldn’t measure Three UK’s 4G mobile coverage but looking at other research one can see that they have the lowest 4G coverage in the UK.
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, commented on the research by saying: “Having fast, reliable broadband on the move is vital for many consumers and businesses across the UK. Today’s research shows 4G is providing a significantly enhanced mobile broadband experience to customers, which we expect to be available to 98% of the UK population by 2017 at the latest.”
“Improving mobile quality of service is an important area of Ofcom’s work. Our research both incentivises mobile providers to offer a higher quality of service, while helping consumers choose a mobile package that best suits their needs.”
Government’s poor mobile coverage proposal received heavy criticism from main mobile providers.
On November 5, the UK government revealed its ideas to tackle the problem of poor mobile coverage. One of the main propositions is an introduction of national roaming, which means that consumers will be able to use the network of any provider at all times without any additional charges. While the government’s press release suggested that all legislative changes were consulted with, the comments issued by main operators seem to contradict that.
All operators voiced their dissatisfaction with the idea of national roaming underlining that this solution will not increase mobile coverage or get rid of partial not-spots. In fact, their opinion is that it will be detrimental to mobile coverage and from the consumers’ perspective the quality of service will worsen too. EE also pointed out that national roaming might cause price hikes which are never welcomed by consumers. The response issued by O2 includes a worry about the future of network infrastructure investments should the government’s proposals be implemented. Finally, Vodafone’s comments focused on their customer’s experience as they might be affected by higher rate of dropped calls, worse quality of services like voicemail or even more battery consumption.
Incidentally, not only operators slammed the government’s “poor mobile coverage” proposals. Ofcom has also expressed its doubts whether national roaming is the right solution to tackle the problem of not-spots and poor mobile coverage. Chief Executive of Ofcom Ed Richards said that national roaming would discourage operators from investing in network infrastructure and probably worsen the overall customer experience.
All in all, both mobile operators and telecoms experts believe that the government’s strategy is inadequate. Right now, the ball is on operators’ side because they have to come up with some feasible alternatives to government’s ideas and they don’t have too much time because the deadline is November 26th.
British operators want the government’s help in order to expand mobile coverage to all of the UK.
Even though, we have been implementing 4G network quite fast, there are still a lot of British homes that can’t get a 3G mobile signal! To be more precisely the problem of having no 3G mobile coverage still affects around 6.1% of UK homes. The government strives to resolve the problem of black spots by launching the mobile infrastructure project that promised to bring mobile coverage to the whole country by March 2015. However, they have already postponed the deadline by a year.
Mobile Operators Association (MOA) revealed that British mobile providers will not reach 100% mobile coverage if the government does not somehow subsidize this idea. The operators said that they invest significantly more money into rural infrastructure to provide coverage to few people and this is unprofitable. MOA’s Director said that even though main operators share their networks to reduce costs, Vodafone works with O2 while EE collaborates with Three, they invest more per capita in rural areas than in urban ones. Right now, mobile providers heavily develop their 4G mobile coverage which will support government’s goal of providing superfast broadband to all UK homes and business by 2017.
MOA proposes some changes to Electronic Communications Code which would pull down some barriers that right now restrict operators’ business. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport is open to debate to find a consensus that will satisfy both parties and let the project move forward. Recently, there were rumours about the idea of introducing national roaming, so that operators would share masts to increase their mobile coverage and hopefully remove some black spots.