World VoIP NewsThe combined 3G infrastructure would cover 98 per cent of the Britain’s populationThe combined 3G infrastructure would cover 98 per cent of the Britain’s population

The combined 3G infrastructure would cover 98 per cent of the Britain’s population


The combined 3G infrastructure, 3g networks scheme, voip
The paralysingly dull subject of mobile network infrastructure became a hot consumer topic in 2009. It is likely to become even bigger news in 2010, as mobile operators slug it out over which has the best network.
Infrastructure became a talking point when O2’s network started to fail in London last summer because data-hungry smartphones, led by Apple’s iPhone, were overwhelming it. Customers of the UK’s largest mobile operator found they were unable to make phone calls or to download data.
Ronan Dunne, head of O2, apologises for the London problems, and agrees network quality will be a battleground between operators in the next few years: “There will be a period, as data really takes off, where network experience is a potential differentiator.”
Mr Dunne emphasises that O2, owned by Spain’s Telefonica, is not alone in having network difficulties because of the fast-growing popularity of smartphones.
He emphasises that AT&T, the mobile operator that is the exclusive network for the iPhone in the US, has also had challenges. AT&T’s main rival, Verizon Wireless, has exploited those difficulties in fun-poking advertisements that claim it has a superior network.
Vodafone is a 45 per cent shareholder in Verizon Wireless, and the UK mobile group is starting to promote its British network.
Vodafone, the second-largest UK operator, starts to sell the iPhone in January, and its new year marketing will trumpet the perceived quality of its network by means of the slogan “outstanding phone, outstanding network”.
Guy Laurence, head of Vodafone’s UK business, claims its network will cope with bandwidth-hungry smartphones. “We are confident that our network is up to the standard required to service these smartphones,” he says.
Mr Laurence draws attention to the way Vodafone has focused on improving the quality of indoor mobile coverage for customers. The decision has been welcomed by consumers because the mobile signal indoors can be poor or non-existent.
But Vodafone’s network based on third-generation wireless technology, which enables smartphones to surf the web, appears weak in terms of its reach. Vodafone’s 3G network covers 81 per cent of the population, whereas Orange’s reaches 93 per cent.
In November, France Telecom’s Orange UK began an advertising campaign that trumpeted how it supposedly has the biggest 3G network. This coincided with Orange starting to sell the iPhone, and in doing so breaking O2’s two-year period as the exclusive network for Apple’s handset.
Orange’s claim to have the biggest 3G network is strongly disputed. 3 UK, the smallest mobile network operator, which is owned by Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa, has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that Orange is using misleading marketing. 3 insists it has the largest 3G network, covering 95 per cent of the population. The ASA is expected to rule on the case in the new year.
Whatever the outcome, consumer groups say 3G networks remain an urban phenomenon. Great swathes of the countryside have no 3G infrastructure.
All the operators are expanding their 3G networks, but a leap forward is likely with the proposed merger of Orange and ¬T-Mobile UK, Deutsche ¬Telekom’s British sub¬sidiary.
Orange, third-largest UK operator, and T-Mobile, the fourth, are seeking regulatory approval to form a new market leader, with 29.5m customers.
They would collapse their networks into one. The combined 3G infrastructure would cover as much as 98 per cent of the population.


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