EE's quest to cover 95% of the UK's landmass with 4G signals by 2020 has received a major boost with the company announcing that it has switched on it's 800 MHz 4G signal, thereby enhancing it's 4G coverage to 75% of UK's landmass. Earlier this year, using BT's fibre broadband links, EE switched on its 4G services in distant regions like Shetland and the Isles of Scilly which are almost 1,000 miles apart. EE has also enabled Voice over LTE in cities like London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Leeds and Newcastle and is building 750 new sites across the country to plug 'not-spots' in areas where 4G services are already active.
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Having achieved leadership in the country as far as 4G signal coverage is concerned, EE is now asking other mobile network operators to use geographical coverage as the standard industry measurement to let consumers know where they can make calls and use mobile data. EE supports it's talk with the results of a recent survey which revealed that because of confusion about mobile network coverage, consumers are developing false expectations about where to make calls or use data, especially in rural areas. EE has also requested Ofcom to support it's initiative and has pledged that it will start providing geographical coverage data to it's consumers by January of next year.
Earlier this year, Rootmetrics conducted a survey to gauge how mobile networks performed in terms of reliability, speed, mobile internet, calls and texts. EE turned out the winner in nearly all parameters even though the point gap between EE and the remaining networks was closer than in previous years. "Choosing the mobile operator that’s right for you is not one-size-fits-all. While some people care most about fast mobile internet so they can watch videos or download music without delay, others just want to know that they can reliably make a call or send a text. Consumers can use this report to make informed decisions based on where they live and how they tend to use their phone,” said Scott Stonham, RootMetrics General Manager of Europe when the report was published.
A recent survey named ‘Clear on Coverage’ conducted by research house ICM on 4,000 consumers revealed that half of all UK consumers didn't know which coverage measurement to look for when choosing new providers, a third of all consumers are least satisfied with mobile coverage while travelling and that half of all consumers have been led to believe that they will receive mobile signal wherever they go in the country.
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"“We welcome EE’s call for the mobile industry to deliver clearer information to customers about where they can expect to get a signal. It is vital that mobile consumers are able to make an informed decision about which network has the potential to serve them best. I am glad that EE recognises that the lack of clear information for consumers has been a particular problem in rural areas. We believe that the move towards reporting all coverage in geographic terms by January 2017 is a step in the right direction and has the potential to offer significant benefits to rural consumers," said Sarah Lee, head of policy at Countryside Alliance.
Vodafone has once been quite vocal about RootMetrics' surveys being based on outdated data and biased towards EE. The network has even termed such reports 'inconsistent' and that they cannot be trusted because of a commercial relationship between EE and RootMetrics. EE reportedly buys data from RootMetrics and uses them in advertising, but also does so from other sources as well for various reasons. As such, it will be interesting to see if Vodafone will be inclined to accept EE's call for considering geographical coverage as standard industry measurement in the future.