UK MOBILE OPERATOR EE is calling on its rivals to be 'clearer on coverage', or admit that they are not as good as it is.
In an open letter sent to industry rivals O2, Three and Vodafone, EE is asking that firms fess up on where their coverage is lacking and has said it will lead the charge by switching to geographic coverage in January.
Currently, it reports based on population coverage but has admitted this can offer "misleading" figures.
EE's open letter comes after a survey it did found that "confusion' about network coverage has led to "false expectations" about where customers can make calls and use data, particularly in rural areas.
The firm's CEO Marc Allera said: "From streaming music to making video calls, our customers use their smartphones wherever they go and tell us loud and clear that a 4G signal is no longer a 'nice to have' – it's a 'must have'.
"Today, people think they will get mobile coverage absolutely everywhere, because as an industry we’ve talked about coverage with confusing population metrics, and language that sets the wrong expectations. Too often, the customer experience has been very different from the marketing. That has to stop. "
EE is roping Ofcom in to help, it said, to provide consumer advice and to help decide on how to get its rivals to follow its lead.
"We're asking our peers and the mobile industry to get 'Clear on Coverage'. All operators should publish clearer geographic coverage information, and we’re seeking support from Ofcom as the independent source of information on mobile coverage and quality.
"We want to make it easier and clearer for consumers to know where they will and won’t get coverage, and which network is the right one for them."
Vodafone has been quick to respond to EE's demands and says that it has been calling for clearer coverage reports for the past two years.
"We are glad to see EE has finally agreed there is a need for a common industry approach to network coverage reports, which we have been calling for since 2014," a Vodafone spokesperson said.
"We have invested £2bn in our network since 2014, which is why we now provide great voice and data coverage and offer a number of unique services to rural communities where there is little or no coverage.
"Our confidence in our network is such that we now have a Network Satisfaction Guarantee, which gives new and upgrading customers the freedom to experience our network for up to 30 days before they fully commit. We expect to spend an additional £2 billion over the next three years to build the UK's strongest network."
EE's open letter comes, conveniently, as the company announced that it's switched on its low-frequency 800MHz spectrum at 700 sites across the country. This, EE claims, sees it filling in in 5,000 square kilometres of 4G 'not spots' overnight and improved indoor signal in 500,000 homes.
EE also boasts that it has now hit 99 per cent 4G population coverage (although that figure is misleading, remember) which translates to 75 per cent geographic coverage. It is aiming to increase the latter to 95 per cent by this time next year. µ
Flagship will launch a day early to avoid being 'overshadowed' by Apple
EC says merged entity will 'continue to face significant competition'
Alexa, give me a reason to be cheerful about the UK economy
No, it isn't 1 April