Lies, damned lies and mobile telephone coverage

Posted by Voipfone on September 2, 2015

Lies, damned lies and mobile telephone coverageThis week the Advertising Standards Authority agreed with a complaint from Three that Vodafone was telling statistical porkies about their UK coverage. They’d claimed that they “were unbeatable at connecting calls” but it turns out that they’d just fiddled their numbers by excluding Wales, Northern Ireland and almost all of Scotland (they’d included just 2 locations in Scotland, 10 miles apart, in their sample).

“We told Vodafone not to imply they performed as well as other mobile network operators on call connection and dropped calls performance across the UK coverage unless they held suitable substantiation”

The truth is, of course, all the networks only go where there are large quantities of people and shy away from planting their masts where there’s little chance of getting a return. What needs to happen is mast sharing. There is no economic sense in building 3 or 4 physical networks in dense locations; it makes far more sense to build one, but build it everywhere – after all there is only one M6, only one London to Leeds railway, only one power grid, only one gas and water pipe into your home…. some things are natural monopolies and telephone networks are one of them.

The forthcoming monopolies investigation on the mergers between BT and EE and Three and O2 could do with looking at how coverage can be improved in an increasingly oligopolised future for mobile networks. As well as forcing a wholesale offering that allows VoIP companies to interconnect with them and innovate – something that the mobile companies just do not do – they should also have a good look at forcing mast sharing, which would reduce costs and increase coverage for everyone.

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