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Vodafone failing to meet 3G coverage obligations – Ofcom

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has said Vodafone is failing to meet its 3G coverage obligations, after it published an assessment of UK’s mobile phone network operators.

Vodafone is falling 1.4% short of the 90% requirement, but the company has put a plan in place to fulfil its 3G obligation by the end of 2013, said the watchdog.

EE, Three, O2 and Vodafone each agreed to fulfil Ofcom’s requirements for 3G services when the regulator first awarded licences in 2000, when all the companies involved agreed to roll out services to 80% of the population by 2010.

The government then directed Ofcom to increase the obligation further, to 90% of the UK population, and all four operators agreed to reach the revised standard by June 30 2013.

Vodafone’s compliance plan will involve rolling out 3G to more mobile masts than the company had originally estimated.

Ofcom has stated it will closely monitor Vodafone’s implementation, but will not take any action against the company’s failure given the compliance plans. It did however say it will assess the situation in January 2014, and could take action then.

O2, Three and EE have complied with Ofcom’s requirements so far.

The watchdog also revealed that O2 will be expected to extend 4G coverage in indoor areas to at least 98% of the UK, and 99% outdoors by 2017 at the latest. Other mobile operators will also be intending to match this coverage, and help to extend mobile broadband to parts of the UK still underserved by 3G.

Ofcom will also be carrying out research to measure 3G and 4G performance, assessing the average speeds accessed by customers. It will publish its report in spring 2014.

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