Vodafone To Meet Ofcom 3G Coverage Target – Six Months Late

Vodafone’plans to upgrade more masts to meet Ofcom’s target of 90 percent 3G coverage by the end of 2013

Vodafone has promised to meet its obligation of providing 90 percent of the UK population with 3G coverage by the end of the year after Ofcom found it was the only operator to fail its coverage requirements.

The 3G licenses awarded in 2000 required operators to rollout services to 80 percent of the population, but in 2010, the government ordered Ofcom to increase this obligation to 90 percent, with the operators promising to adhere by 30 June 2013.

Ofcom tested each network and found that although EE, Three and O2 met their responsibilities, Vodafone fell 1.4 percent short of the coverage requirement.

Ofcom Vodafone

Vodafone LandscapeAccording to the communications regulator, Vodafone underestimated the number of masts it would have to upgrade to 3G to be compliant, but following discussions between the two parties, the operator has promised to meet its requirements before the end of the year.

TechWeekEurope understands Vodafone will upgrade a few hundred sites from 2G to 3G in the next few weeks as part of a plan agreed with Ofcom, which will monitor the roll out closely and could take action if the network is not complaint by January 2014.

“Our 3G licence includes an obligation to cover 90 percent of the population and Ofcom is fully aware of our plans to ensure compliance by the end of this year,” said a company spokesperson. “Our network investment stands at more than £900m this year alone and we remain on track to deliver indoor coverage across 2G, 3G and 4G to 98 percent of the population by 2015, two years ahead of the regulator’s deadline.”

Ofcom 4G commitment

Ofcom has also reiterated its commitment to improving mobile coverage in the UK, especially with regards to 4G. It says that O2’s license for the 800MHz spectrum it acquired at the 4G auction earlier this year requires it to provide indoor coverage to 98 percent of the UK population and outdoor coverage to 99 percent, but adds that all major operators are set to match this requirement.

The watchdog will be carrying out tests to measure the performance of 3G and 4G networks in the UK and will publish the research early next year as it seeks to help consumers and businesses understand the benefits of 4G, which it believes will help improve broadband in rural areas.

Ofcom is also lending its support to the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey as part of plans to cope with the anticipated growth in mobile data, while it also plans to eventually reassign the 700MHz bands currently used for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) for ‘5G’ services.

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