Geographic coverage to replace population coverage

Geographic coverage to replace population coverage

Mobile phone network coverage has always been reported in a contentious way in the news, but it this is about to come to an end with geographical coverage to replace population coverage reporting, on the network’s websites.

EE has said that from January it will show only geographical coverage on its website for the UK landmass. This announcement falls in line with Ofcom’s five-point plan for improving mobile coverage, announced on October 17th.

Population coverage has never been representative because such a high percentage of the population live in cities. 

The future of mobile internet

EE chief executive, Marc Allera, told BBC news that "Our view is that the industry needs to be clearer on coverage, and geographic is the most important metric. These are mobile devices. People expect them to work outside of where they live and work."

Ofcom has informed us that mobile phone networks are required to provide geographical voice coverage of at least 90% by the end of 2017. So where does geographical coverage stand today?

  • EE geographical coverage - Voice coverage for 85% of UK landmass with 4G coverage for 75% of UK landmass
  • Vodafone geographical coverage - Voice coverage for 93% of UK landmass and was either unable or unwilling to provide its 4G geographical coverage
  • O2 geographical coverage - Voice coverage for 90% of UK landmass with 4G coverage for 63% of UK landmass
  • Three geographical coverage - Three was either unable or unwilling to provide any figures for its geographical coverage

Geographical mobile coverage

Ofcom five-point plan for improving mobile coverage

Ofcom’s five-point plan for improving mobile coverage gives us a glimpse of the future. 

First off, Ofcom highlights that the auction for 4G was designed in a way that ensured one network (O2) would be required to provide 4G indoor services to 98% of premises across the UK, by 2017. This has now led to the other networks stating that they will also match this requirement.

The Government is also spending £150m on providing new mobile infrastructure, to bring 4G mobile services to homes that have previously missed out, due to a lack of commercial viability.

About 5G

Within the plan, Ofcom is also discussing national roaming with the Government and mobile phone networks, with infrastructure sharing between Three and EE as well as between Vodafone and O2.
For today, issues of no coverage indoors, can be easily overcome by purchasing very-affordable Femtocell technology.

Geographical coverage

Femtocell technology 

Femtocell technology works in much the same way as a Wi-Fi broadband router does. The device connects to your home broadband and produces a mobile phone network signal, for multiple people of the home (or office) to connect to.

Vodafone Sure Signal

The Femtocell signal can be used to make calls, send text messages and browse the internet. Both the Vodafone Sure Signal and Three Home Signal Femtocell boxes cost around £70, making them an affordable solution for rural properties and businesses.

Ofcom mobile research app

The Ofcom mobile research app is Ofcom’s first crowd-sourced research project. The aim of the app is to help improve mobile phone services across the UK.

The data collected by the app will give Ofcom and the networks a better understanding of how mobile services perform across the UK. The Android app can be downloaded from the Play Store and works in the background, monitoring the performance of any mobile network (of Wi-Fi network) that is used. 

Ofcom mobile research app

Participants can see the data collected in the app, which includes mobile coverage, voice call reliability and mobile broadband performance. 

The data collected is being used to update Ofcom’s coverage maps. The data will also allow for the planning for the infrastructure that will be needed to support the future demand for internet connected services. For example, it will record where and which apps are used in different locations.

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Written by: Michael Brown