EE has sent a rather optimistic open letter (which you can find here) to its main competitors, essentially asking them to admit that they deliver an inferior level of service.
CEO Marc Allera is calling for the UK’s mobile operators to be ‘clear on coverage’, and wants Ofcom to help lead the charge. The company plans to stop reporting population coverage and switch to geographic coverage, saying that the former -- the model currently favoured by operators -- is "misleading" and “sets the wrong expectations” for consumers.
“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,” he said. “Too often, the customer 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.”
EE is set to stop using population coverage measurements in isolation and switch to reporting geographic coverage in January, and Allera says the company will press ahead with its plans “even if its rivals don’t follow, as it’s the right thing to do.”
From a consumer standpoint, this sounds great. Unfortunately, the likelihood is that the likes of O2, Vodafone and Three will stick to reporting population coverage, as EE is highly likely to top the geographic coverage charts.
Here's an extract from Allera's letter:
Bigger numbers look better to customers. And the industry has long made population coverage the benchmark for success, setting population-driven coverage obligations as recently as 2013.
In the UK, 90% population coverage can be achieved with only 40% geographic coverage. It's obvious which number will be used in the marketing. All mobile operators operators do it, but leading with population coverage alone has to stop.
The company also announced that it's switched on its low frequency 800MHz spectrum at 700 sites across the country, and claims to have filled in 5,000 square kilometres of 4G ‘not spots’ overnight and improved indoor signal in 500,000 homes.
It says it’s now hit 99% 4G population coverage, which translates to 75% geographic coverage, and is aiming to bring that second figure up to 95% by this time next year.
The company’s launched its own Network Status Checker tool too, which you can access here.