British mobile operators vie for 3G network bragging rights

14 Apr 2010

The UK’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, O2 UK, has defended the quality of its 3G network in response to claims of superior quality by rival Vodafone UK. According to Mobile News, O2 chief technology officer (CTO) Derek McManus pointed to a January 2010 study verified by the British Approval Board for Telecommunications which listed O2 as having the fastest downlink speeds for mobile web services in four of the UK’s 20 major cities. The executive also said: ‘We have the best network in London – and that is independently tested, and not a claim to make us look good. We have 84% 3G coverage, but we also have over 7,000 WiFi hotspots and the best 2G coverage.’ O2 expects to double its network rollout over the next few years, and plans to deploy a further 1,500 base stations by the end of this year.

Claims by Vodafone in its recent advertising that it offers the best 3G quality has also prompted another of the country’s other operators H3G UK, which offers services under the ‘3’ banner, to enter the debate. H3G UK CTO Graham Baxter said: ‘How can it [Vodafone] justify that claim? What is it measuring, and how is it demonstrating it has a better quality network than we have? Ours is a fair measure of throughput speeds, and Vodafone’s are comparable. We have the best population coverage so I don’t know what quality it’s claiming for.’ For its part, Vodafone has specified the terminology used in its recent ‘Sure Signal’ campaign, with the operator’s head of network development Mairead Cullen noting: ‘We mean quality of customer experience and consistency of it – where and when. Our strategy is to ensure quality service is available to customers where they want it. And customers want to use 3G indoors.’

United Kingdom, Hutchison 3G UK (Three UK), O2 UK, Vodafone UK