Thursday, January 9, 2020

Sneaky mobile networks like EE and O2 are lying to 'millions' of Brits about how good their coverage is, experts warn

MILLIONS of people across the UK may not be receiving the outdoor mobile coverage that their operator is claiming to provide, according to the Local Government Association.

The LGA is accusing all mobile networks of not providing customers with what they're paying for and specifically mentions EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 in its report.

The LGA said that the companies have been 'marking their own homework' when it comes to deciding how good their network strength is.

Lots of people use mobile ‘coverage checker’ websites when they're deciding what phone contract to buy.

However, the LGA has highlighted that this data is not based on the real-life experience of phone users but computer modelling predictions made by the operators themselves.

Across Britain, the LGA says it's now working to hold mobile operators to account but keeps finding areas where coverage is said to be fast and reliable yet real users are complaining they can't make phone calls or go online.

Shropshire council is said to have already found 28 areas where operators’ outdoor coverage claims do not match the quality that is actually being provided.

The council is now asking the major mobile networks to take action.

Authorities in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have also compiled a ‘Top 20’ list of priority areas that they want networks to improve.

The new Government has plans to sign a deal with mobile operators within 100 days to create a Rural Shared Network.

This deal will commit EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 to ensure that good coverage reaches 95% of the UK by 2025 by pooling their resources.

The LGA, which represents councils across England and Wales, claims that the Government and Ofcom will be unable to hold the operators to account to meet this pledge if they don't have an accurate picture of outdoor mobile coverage.

It says relying solely on operators’ own computer modelling rather than independent on the ground testing, is risking a situation where the operators could 'mark their own homework'.

This is why the association is calling on the Government to give Ofcom the powers to independently verify coverage before it signs any agreements.

It thinks that local areas should be given annual speed and reliability health checks using on the ground testing.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said: “The industry’s proposal to increase mobile coverage across local areas is a positive step.

"However, we know that the way mobile operators and Ofcom measure outdoor coverage does not account for real life experience.

“Like housing, education and transport provision, digital connectivity is central to thriving communities – with millions of people relying on mobile coverage every day, including businesses and our most vulnerable.

"It is important our communities are not cut off from the digital age.

“Councils are government’s key partners in driving improvement in people’s lives across the whole country.

"Before the Government signs up to any new deal, we want to work with them to ensure that we can properly measure whether mobile operators are achieving coverage that improves mobile signal in the real world, rather than numbers on a spreadsheet.”

Caroline Normand, Which? Director of Advocacy, said: “To ensure everyone benefits from plans to improve 4G coverage across the country, people must have access to accurate coverage information so that they know what kind of service they can expect in the areas where they use their mobile phone.

“Along with transparency about when these coverage improvements will be delivered and accurate information about availability, Which? believes consumers must also have a real choice of providers in all areas to ensure that they truly see improvements in the service they are getting.”

In 2018, Vodafone and EE were investigated by the watchdog over claims that they gave false information about network coverage in rural areas.

Is 5G better than 4G?

Here's what you need to know…

The fastest current 4G mobile networks offer about 45Mbps, which is megabits per second.

The industry is still hopeful it can achieve 1Gbps, which is equal to 1,000 Mbps.

5G is much faster than 4G.

Users can achieve about 150-200Mbps.

However, when The Sun tested out the 5G speed they saw high speeds of 315Mbps and even 420Mbps.

Communications watchdog Ofcom suggests in time 5G could offer speeds up to 20Gbps.

When 4G LTE was rolled out it was widely regarded as a turning point in tech history.

Video chatting, video-driven social media and mobile consumption of TV and films was made possible.

It's worthr remembering that not everywhere in the UK can currently get 5G coverage as mobile networks continue to roll it out across the country.

In other news, Apple has admitted that it automatically scans iPhone photos for sick child abuse images.

Samsung is set to bring out the world's first 5G tablet.

And, as of last month, EE now has 5G in over 50 places.

Are you satisfied with the coverage from your mobile network provider? Let us know in the comments…

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