Ofcom, Britain’s telecoms regulator, said it would investigate if Vodafone and rival mobile operator EE had provided accurate information about their 3G and 4G mobile coverage in UK.
Ofcom revealed that it found errors in the coverage data provided by Vodafone, which meant that its 4G coverage was underestimated, particularly in rural areas.
Ofcom also disclosed that coverage data handed in by EE, owned by BT Group, meant that its 3G coverage was over-predicted, particularly in rural areas.
Ofcom believes that EE and Vodafone have given false information about network coverage in rural areas. As a result, mobile phone customers on 3G or 4G networks will not be able to make informed decisions about the network quality of their service providers.
Ofcom says EE is exaggerating its 3G coverage in rural areas, while Vodafone has been found to understate exactly how far its network reaches.
EE came up with the figures submitted to Ofcom using a formula that used data from cities and built-up areas.
Vodafone is being investigated for underestimating its coverage in rural areas. This boosted the overall numbers, making it look like the coverage in rural areas is more that it is in reality.
Vodafone is being investigated for the opposite reasons because its reach of 4G in rural areas was actually underestimated.
A decision on both of the cases is expected to be made in December which could result in a fine of up to £2 million for each network, according to media reports.
A spokesperson for EE said that it has already passed on the updated information to Ofcom and that the wrong information would have only affected a very small number of customers.
A spokesperson for Vodafone said: “The data we have been submitting is adjusted to reflect the signal customers actually receive on their mobile phones. This is the data we use internally to assess customer coverage, whereas Ofcom reports on the theoretical strength of the signal at the location of the handset.”