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October 31, 2016
It looks like nobody wants to fess up responsibility for Britain’s shoddily put-together broadband, as even the government has said it’s not good enough – in an announcement eerily similar to one from 2014.
We recently brought news from Broadband World Forum that Openreach and Virgin Media had a massive dig at the UK government to sort out all the issues preventing operators from getting on with the task of sorting out the country’s broadband.
Now a bunch of MPs, roughly 90, have given their support to a piece of research investigating how UK mobile operators are doing in terms of filling in coverage not-spots across the country. The report run by the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) claims the big four operators are behind the curve with where they should be following a £5 billion investment from the UK government a couple of years ago.
Not-spots continue to riddle parts of the country, and there are a couple of points of contention the report raises. First is the issue of national roaming, which BIG chairman Grant Shapps MP still can’t believe isn’t happening. National roaming was originally pitched a couple of years ago by former Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid – to which the major telcos pretty much said “ha ha, naaaaah, see you later.”
Now, Shapps wants to see this being seriously considered again, concluding that “mobile roaming, on a smaller scale, could instead be targeted in areas severely affected by partial ‘not spots’.”
This is kind of history repeating considering Javid’s failed attempts to take a hard line on operators in 2014 – especially when the report says:
“This approach is known as ‘macro not spot’ roaming, and the DCMS should undertake an impact assessment to determine whether this policy could be implemented in areas of the UK that need mobile coverage the most.”
The report continued by rambling on about championing consumer protection, to make sure it’s standing by British citizens as any self-serving report or campaign does (see Fix Britain’s Internet baffling levels of alleged altruism). It says it is unacceptable that tourists come over here, take our great network quality and get preferential treatment over the good honest hard-working Brits who are being shafted by their devious operator.
(NB – tourists generally get better coverage because roaming SIM cards will automatically attach to the highest-quality network signal available at any given moment.)
The report also digs at broader coverage issues in general, in particular shaming Three for only serving up 4G coverage to customers 43.7% of the time – a good 15% less often than the second lowest operator, O2, on a fraction under 60%. EE and Vodafone were marginally better at 64% and 60% respectively.
Certainly not spared from the crosshair of shame were the download speeds being offering up by 4G networks in general. The report says “When situated in the context that 4G download speeds could potentially reach up to 80Mbps, this data indicates that mobile internet download speeds in the UK are far from satisfactory.”
That’s actually a little bit incorrect, because it could be way higher than 80 Mbps in the case of operators who have implemented LTE-A technology – like EE and Vodafone – which typically proposes speeds in the region of hundreds of megabits per second.
EE ranked top with 27.9 Mbps average download speeds was EE, consistent with various nationwide network tests, with Three (24.4 Mbps), Vodafone (17.9 Mbps) and O2 (16.1 Mbps) following in tow.
We won’t tell you which mobile operator was supplying this service witnessed in the following screen shot, but it definitely isn’t in keeping with the aforementioned standard.
Tim is the features editor at Telecoms.com, focusing on the latest activity within the telecoms and technology industries – delivering dry and irreverent yet informative news and analysis features.
Tim is also host of weekly podcast A Week In Wireless, where the editorial team from Telecoms.com and their industry mates get together every now and then and have a giggle about what’s going on in the industry.
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