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Vodafone meets Ofcom coverage obligation

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After outing mobile operator Vodafone as the only UK operator to have failed to meet telecoms regulator Ofcom’s 3G coverage obligation last year, the regulator has confirmed that Vodafone has now met its requirements.

3G licences awarded in the country’s spectrum auction in 2000 included an obligation to provide coverage to 80 per cent of the UK by population. In 2010 the UK government told Ofcom to increase this obligation to cover 90 per cent of where the UK population lives and set operators a deadline of June 30th, 2013.

Ofcom announced in November that EE, O2 UK and 3UK had all met the 3G coverage obligation, but Vodafone had not, and had only covered 88.66 per cent of the population.

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Vodafone agreed plans with Ofcom to bring itself into compliance with the 3G coverage obligation by the end of 2013, which involved upgrading 129 mobile transmitter sites. Having fulfilled that commitment, Vodafone has escaped a penalty that Ofcom would levy to any operator that breached the obligation.

The regulator added that it will now carry out research into mobile reception quality and coverage, and monitor indicators such as the proportion of dropped calls that users experience. It also pledged to publish data revealing 3G and 4G mobile broadband performance in the spring.

The LTE licence acquired by O2 last year also includes a coverage obligation to extend indoor LTE coverage to 98 per cent of the UK population by 2017, which will mean coverage of more than 99 per cent of the UK population when outdoors, according to Ofcom.

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