When Regulators Make Sense

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3.13.2015

Sometimes industry regulators leave us wondering why they do what they do. But UK communications regulator Ofcom has done something that makes perfect sense to us.

Simply put, it has committed the country’s four mobile operators (EE, 3UK, 02 UK and Vodafone UK) to the pledges they made last December to improve mobile coverage across the UK to the tune of 90% coverage by the end of 2017. This will theoretically reduce “not-spots” by two-thirds – something that will cost the operators a whopping £5 billion (US$7,72 billon) by 2017.

The operators also have to meet signal strength thresholds that will be monitored by Ofcom in future.

We can expect a lot of discussions to be had around things like national roaming agreements, license fees, specifications and what the coverage obligations entail. But at the end of the day, customers will be the ones to benefit from this move.

This announcement brings to mind an article from Rethink Wireless in which Vodafone UK stated that consistent quality of service was more important to LTE customers than ubiquitous coverage on a “thin and flimsy” basis. The comments do have to be considered in light of trying to one-up competitors. But the underlying point is that coverage is running second to quality of service.

Our question is a simple one: why would you have to choose one over the other? Technologies like Cel-Fi are designed to address both concerns for indoor coverage quite nicely, regardless of which comes first in operators’ and regulators’ eyes.

And while industry players are citing the many coverage holes to be addressed, it’s nice to know that Cel-Fi can do its part in filling them.

What do you think? How much can regulators enforce operators’ coverage commitments? And should they?

By Werner Sievers, CEO

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