Vodafone dodges Ofcom fine over 3G coverage targets

Mobile phone mast

Vodafone has escaped a huge fine from Ofcom after the regulator confirmed the operator had now reached coverage targets for its 3G network.

Ofcom imposed a deadline of June 2013 for all mobile operators to offer 3G coverage to at least 90 per cent of UK homes. O2, EE and Three managed to meet the target, however Vodafone only managed to service 88.6 per cent.

This resulted in Ofcom meeting with Vodafone executives to thrash out new plans to get the operator to the 90 per cent mark by the end of December 2013. Vodafone came up with a plan that saw 129 of its mobile transmitter sites getting an upgrade. Vodafone managed to upgrade all sites just before the deadline.

"Ofcom takes the requirements of its licensees very seriously, and breaches of these obligations can incur a penalty," the regulator said in a statement.

"Having taken these factors into account, and the margin by which the target was missed, Ofcom has decided that it will not take any further action on this occasion."

The regulator has now turned to 4G coverage targets, specifically O2. It said the mobile operator must reach its 4G indoor coverage of 98 per cent of the population by 2017 at the latest. This will mean 99 per cent coverage targets for outdoor reception.

Ofcom has also announced that it will carry out research into the quality of mobile reception and coverage, such as information on the proportion of dropped' calls that consumers experience. Ofcom will also publish new data revealing 3G and 4G mobile broadband performance in the spring. Ofcom said the mobile coverage was now a "priority area" for the regulator.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.