Network provider EE are insisting that access to the 4G spectrum a “must have”, and have asked their rivals to do more to tackle the digital divide outside of London.
While many areas of London already have access to the highest 2600 MHz band, the situation outside the capital is still a different story.
Parts of Glasgow, Berkshire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Snowdonia and Oban were able to access 4G for the first time last week after EE switched on their low-frequency 800MHz spectrum around the country.
This has boosted the indoor signal in 500,000 homes and filled in 5,000 square kilometres where 4G could not previously be accessed. Around 3,000 more locations will finally be able to use the spectrum before the end of this year.
Further to this, EE have pledged to publish more regular updates on their geographic coverage and data speed base. They want their rivals to be “clearer on coverage too”, or to admit that they’re not as good as they say it is.
EE CEO Marc Allera penned an open letter to both Ofcom and all other mobile operators.
The letter began: “From streaming music to making video calls, our customers use their smartphones wherever they go and tell us loud and clear that a 4G signal is no longer ‘no to have’ – it’s a ‘must have’.”
It continued “Today people think they will get mobile coverage absolutely everywhere, because as an industry we’ve talked about coverage with confusing population metrics, and language that sets the wrong expectations. Too often, the customers experience has been very different from the marketing. That has to stop.
“We’re asking our peers and the mobile industry to get ‘Clear on Coverage’. All operators should publish clearer geographic coverage information, and we’re seeking support from Ofcom as the independent source of information on mobile coverage and quality. We want to make it easier and clearer for consumers to know where they will and won’t get coverage, and which network is the right one for them.”
The reaction to EE’s statement was understandably mixed. A spokesperson for Vodafone said they are glad EE are pushing for a common industry approach, but insist they are building the most comprehensive network in the country.
Their statement read: “We have invested £2bn in our network since 2014, which is why we now provide great voice and data coverage and offer a number of unique services to rural communities where there is little or no coverage.”
It added: “We expect to spend an additional £2 billion over the next three years to build the UK’s strongest network.”