Archive for the ‘mobile coverage’ tag
Vodafone confirms rolling-out Voice over LTE and Wi-Fi Calling services in the UK this summertime.
We’ve recently heard about a lot of changes on the mobile market in the UK. EE is being sold to BT, Three is trying to acquire O2, Orange and T-Mobile have been phased out and we will not see any new SIM cards with their logos, but there hasn’t been much talk about Vodafone. But this British multinational telecommunications provider has not been sleeping and just recently has announced two big innovations that will be introduced this summer: Voice over LTE and Wi-Fi calling.
The first of the new services known as VoLTE (short for Voice over LTE) is simply saying using the 4G network to carry calls. What this means to a customer? Frankly, it won’t make such a big difference from day 1 and there seem to be more advantage for the operator than the customer. From the operator’s point of view, they may start phasing out 2G network and make their infrastructure simpler, which means lower costs. Customers will experience a better voice quality as the compression method used will be more advanced that will be reflected on clearer phone call than we are used to. Additionally, this technology also allows providers to setup the call faster than using 2G. The difference should be quite noticeable, so you might not have to wait so long before hearing the signal. The downside is that not every phone will support VoLTE. If you don’t have one of the latest smartphones like Samsung Galaxy S6, iPhone 6 or Lumia 640, the chances are Voice over LTE won’t work for you.
The second novelty at Vodafone is so called Wi-Fi Calling. This service will use available Wi-Fi connection to provide mobile coverage. Additionally, this will be done seamlessly without any need of additional apps. Customers who currently live in places with low mobile coverage or experience poor signal indoors will definitely welcome such an innovation. We don’t know yet whether this service will be provided for free and whether Wi-Fi calls will have sufficient quality to compete with standard signal. Nevertheless, Vodafone UK CEO, Jeroen Hoencamp, said: “It is another important step towards our commitment to build the UK’s strongest converged network.”
Both of the services have been tested in Vodafone’s labs and will be undergoing heavy trials, so that everything works as smoothly as possible during the launch this summer season.
Few days ago Google announced that it will start its own MVNO in the USA in a partnership with T-Mobile and Sprint
Google to launch MVNO
During the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google’s SVP of Products, Sundar Pichai confirmed rumours that the Internet giant is going to launch its own MVNO in the US. While Mr. Pichai wasn’t precise about the start date and said that it will happen „in the next few months”, rumour has it that Google may kick off this project even this month. Little is known about the project, but Google’s MVNO will probably piggy-back on both T-Mobile and Sprint. We don’t know yet whether it will be a nationwide network, if it focuses on PAYG SIM cards or contracts, and what kind of tariffs and rates it will offer. However, it is clear that their unique selling point is the mobile coverage and call quality.
The cornerstone of Google’s MVNO will be to provide mobile coverage through it partnering operators but also with the use of Wi-Fi networks. Services using voice-over-Wi-Fi are not an innovation, but Google wants to provide consumers a possibility to be able to dynamically and seamless change between Wi-Fi and mobile network, depending on the signal quality. Apart from solving the issue of dropped calls, using wireless will extend mobile coverage greatly. If this plan turns out to be a working idea than it might revolutionise the market and bring in more importance of voice-over-Wi-Fi.
Google claims that its MVNO will initially be a small-scale project that will not threaten American operators. Its goal is to showcase the new solution on the telecoms market and serve as a model that might be adopted by other providers in the near future.
EE CEO Olaf Swantee announced that his company plans to spend £1.5bn on their network modernization until 2017 in order to extend their mobile coverage.
The 4G operator impressed everyone by announcing a considerable investment package which goal is to bring 4G mobile coverage to everyone in the UK. This plan is part of a bigger strategy known as “Signalling the Future” which main purpose is to face the challenges of digital needs in the UK by greatly increasing mobile coverage especially in rural areas. The £1.5bn investment spread over next three years has two main goals: providing 4G mobile coverage to 99% of the population and covering 90% of the UK territory.
In order to reach the expected results EE will focus on implementing Micro Network technology in the countryside, using low frequency spectrum in that areas and introducing WiFi Calling and 4G Voice. In terms of the first point, EE wants to roll out small devices that can be mounted on buildings and will support current mast network. The projected effect of deploying Micro Network is mobile coverage in around 1,500 communities that do not have reliable and fast broadband. The second concept involves using 800Mhz spectrum in rural areas as it covers large distances and is ideal for 4G. Moreover, this low frequency spectrum will allow EE to provide mobile coverage in current black spots without significant expansion of the infrastructure. Finally, the 4G operator wants to allow customers to use 4G network to carry voice traffic (currently it is only used for data) and launch a service that enables making phone calls when there is a Wi-Fi connection in range, even if there is no mobile coverage.
These bold plans are put into motion as EE wants to secure its position of the largest 4G network and build solid foundations for the technologies of the future like 5G.
After less than 60 days of negotiations BT informed that it will take over EE for 12.5 billion pounds.
In the middle of December, BT announced that it is in serious talks with EE over acquiring it. British telecommunications giant wanted to use EE’s customer base and network with the largest mobile coverage to enter the mobile phone market and as a result become a major player on the quad play market. Now, the operator assured that the negotiation period is over and the sale is going to be completed in March 2016.
The deal itself is a combination of shares and cash in the total value of £12.5bn. Deutsche Telekom and Orange, current owners of EE, will get 12% and 4% stake in BT respectively. Orange will additionally get £3.4bn in cash. The prices may seem to be overwhelming at first but if you consider what kind of potential is behind EE, you may see that BT got a fair deal.
The news means that BT will become the largest telecommunications company in the UK that will have both the largest broadband network and the best and the most advanced mobile coverage. Obviously, that was positively reflected on BT’s share price as it rose by 4.5%, proving that BT’s return to the mobile market. Gavin Patterson, the CEO of BT, called this deal a milestone that would help accelerate sales and create leading world-class digital infrastructure for Britain.
Some customers see this as a potentially dangerous situation as consolidation may hurt them because competition will lessen. Patterson reassured that if there are to be any changes for the customers they will be only positive. To his mind, consumers will be able to get a full package of telecommunications service at a better price, because quad play can offer price reduction as consumer buy services as a bundle. Nevertheless, before the deal is finalized the operators need to get an approval from UK Competition and Markets Authority which looks over the market and keeps the market fairly competitive.
Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE, commented on the news saying that he is excited by this deal and sees it as an opportunity for the UK to be the leader in mobile technologies. This will have great consequences for the market and we hope to see technological development as a result of the consolidation of the market.
Data centre breakdown left thousands of EE customers without connection last Thursday morning.
Last Thursday (Jan 22), many people that use EE SIM cards found themselves in a rather peculiar situation. Even though they should have mobile signal as they were within EE’s mobile coverage, it turned out that they can’t make calls, send texts or surf the Internet. Puzzled customers quickly went online and questioned EE via Twitter. The mobile provider quickly responded saying that from around 8 till roughly 9:30 am they had experienced some issues with their data centre in Luton, which made anyone that was routed through it to have problems with connection or mobile coverage. EE reported that all the users should have been okay by 10 am and if somebody can’t get a signal while within the mobile coverage, they should switch to the Airplane Mode for a second to restore the connection.
Followers of social media registered that during the downtime, there were up to three times as many mentions of EE than usual but it went back to the usual number soon after the data centre in Luton was fixed. After a closer look at Twitter, we may see that some customers were experiencing connection problems throughout the whole Thursday, and there were even some posts like that on Friday, but it is not clear whether they had anything to do with the Luton event.
Events like that show that even though British network and 4G mobile coverage are constantly being developed, there are situations when a small issue in one data centre may affect thousands around the country. Obviously, downtime and system failures cannot be prevented in all the cases but mobile operators should remember that expanding mobile coverage is not all and the reliability of the network is as much important.
Slow expansion of 4G mobile network is not seen as a problem in Vodafone as they believe that content and reliability are the key.
Vodafone’s CEO, Jeroen Hoencamp informed that his network can provide 4G mobile services to roughly 50 percent of the British society. This is not a great achievement as all other 4G operators reached that milestone last year and they are their 4G customer base is much higher. Mr Hoencamp sees it differently. In his blog, he said that the roll out speed is not as important as the winning factors are network reliability and the content rather than providing the best speed possible.
Vodafone’s CEO has also said that for his company what is important is to have strong network and expand mobile coverage gradually. Vodafone’s low frequency spectrum is also much better for providing good indoor mobile coverage which for Vodafone may be the competitive advantage. Hoencamp emphasized his argument by showing that Vodafone doesn’t focus on providing the highest speeds possible like EE but on giving people meaningful content like their deal with Sky Sports on Spotify that’s include in some contract variants. He also adds that “people tend to take technology for granted, so we need to make it seamless and easy for people to use, and worry free, so that they can forget about it”. This explains that Vodafone’s approach is either to provide consistent mobile coverage across each particular area or not provide it at all.
To sum up, Hoencamp believes that people don’t really care what 4G is but they want to see how 4G can make their mobile phone experience better and how it will benefit them in a deeper sense not just by giving them faster download speed.
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.
New technologies allow EE to promise 3G and 4G mobile coverage in 1,500 black spot communities
The largest British mobile operator, EE, has announced today that it will use micro networks to bring mobile coverage to around 1,500 rural communities that previously had none. This is possible thanks to a new technology that do not require large masts or miles of cable in order to provide mobile coverage. The new approach uses new micro networks that connect smaller mobile antennas to an appropriate nearby large mast. As a result, the cost of infrastructure is dramatically lowered and the operator can provide mobile coverage to remote locations in a viable way.
From the beginning of next year, EE plans to roll out micro networks that would provide voice and data mobile coverage for both 3G and 4G technology. The promise made today plans to implement 1,500 micro networks by 2017 in areas with non-existent or unreliable mobile coverage. EE has already started the project with the first community being connected today. The trials started in the village of Sebergham, in Cumbria, were less than 350 people live. County officials expressed their gratitude for involving their region first as people from the countryside down there will benefit from having a reliable mobile coverage. EE is now analysing other areas to check where deployment of micro networks is feasible.
EE CEO Olaf Swantee said: “We’ve been working closely with Government on the long-term ambition to bring voice coverage to more of the UK, and we believe that this world-first technology will demonstrate significant advancements against that vision.”
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.”
An unexpected decision will result in Talk Talk customers taking advantage of O2 mobile coverage
Talk Talk is a well-established telecoms provider, the second to offer quadruple play service (TV, fixed line, broadband, mobile), which offered mobile services as MVNO. Since its beginnings in 2010, the company piggybacked on Vodafone’s mobile network. This provider doesn’t have a strong position on the mobile services market and is much more known for its fixed line and broadband services. However, Talk Talk boasts having around 350,000 mobile phone customers (both contract SIM cards and PAYG SIM cards).
Pundits were surprised to hear that Talk Talk made a decision to change their network partner from Vodafone to O2. This was unexpected as for some time the rumours said that the MVNO will be sold to Vodafone. Nevertheless, the announcement dispersed that rumour as Talk Talk enters into a “multi-year” partnership with O2 which will share its 2G, 3G and 4G network. Thanks to this Talk Talk will have better mobile coverage (at least 4G one) and will now have to look to O2 mobile coverage checker to see where they have signal.
The mobile provider wants to capitalize on the trend to offer quadruple play services and the move to O2 is in their opinion beneficial to their growth in that sector. Obviously, Vodafone is disappointed by this turn of events. Their spokesperson said that their four-year long cooperation had been good but they understand the decision.
If you are a Talk Talk customer or think about switching over, then first you should check their current mobile coverage through our website.