Investigation into EE’s compliance with Section 135 and 136 information requests
|Investigation into||EE ltd|
|Case opened||01 October 2018|
|Case closed||31 January 2019|
EE’s compliance with information requests under section 135 and 136 relating to mobile coverage predictions, specifically the accuracy of information provided in response to Ofcom’s requests for 3G mobile coverage predictions across the UK. Ofcom was concerned that some EE consumers in certain rural locations may have experienced 3G mobile coverage that was lower than the coverage information available to consumers.
|Relevant legal provision(s)||
Section 135 and 136 of the Communications Act 2003
Ofcom has closed its investigation into EE’s compliance with our statutory information requests for 3G mobile coverage predictions.
These information requests are at the heart of our work as they enable us to gather information to support our research, policy development, decision-making and publications. It is essential that all Communications Providers submit accurate responses on time, and that we can rely on the information we receive.
We identified potential discrepancies between EE’s 3G mobile coverage predictions data and our own drive-testing data. Ofcom’s drive testing found a lower level of 3G mobile coverage than EE’s predictions. Having raised this with EE, the company carried out its own drive-testing and found similar results.
We subsequently agreed that EE would apply an adjustment to its 3G predictions and we would update our Connected Nations report. These updates meant that some EE consumers in certain rural locations may have experienced 3G mobile coverage that was lower than the coverage information available to consumers. Policymakers and consumers alike use Ofcom’s published mobile coverage information, so it is important that it is accurate.
Based on our review of the evidence and engagement with EE, we are satisfied that EE:
- carried out work to identify (current and previous) EE customers that may have been affected;
- developed and put in place a dedicated compensation policy to provide redress to customers that may have been affected;
- briefed relevant staff to ensure they can provide appropriate advice and/or redress. Customers can raise any questions or concerns directly with EE;
- is continuing to engage effectively with us on its plans to introduce a new coverage prediction model. As part of this work, EE has committed to carrying out additional due diligence and validation checks; and
- cooperated with our investigation and worked with us to make the necessary updates to our Connected Nations report and our coverage checker.
To help ensure that mobile coverage predictions are accurate, our expectation is that all providers, including EE, should:
- adopt a robust modelling approach for predicting mobile signal levels. This should include appropriate validation field testing to ensure predicted mobile signal levels provide an accurate representation of those available;
- carry out appropriate due diligence and regularly review their approach to ensure it remains fit for purpose;
- carry out additional checks and testing where significant changes are made to either mobile coverage predictions models or how the network is deployed, e.g. roll out of new technology or to new topography. We consider that an appropriate approach might include a combination of different testing approaches (e.g. Continuous Wave (CW) testing as well as drive testing); and
- highlight significant changes in their model and/or network deployment when providing coverage predictions to Ofcom, and have appropriate evidence to support their predictions if needed, such as details of the methodology used.
We will be reinforcing these messages in our discussions with providers and will continue to monitor, through drive-testing, the accuracy of operators’ predictions. This means consumers and stakeholders can access accurate information about mobile coverage across the UK.
We will also continue to monitor compliance with statutory information requests more broadly, and take action where needed.
Ofcom collects mobile coverage data from communication providers to inform our policy work and a range of research reports. This data is also widely used by other stakeholders.
Mobile coverage data is also used to develop coverage maps and apps which, importantly, can help consumers to make informed decisions on which mobile provider to choose.
Ofcom requires communications providers (under sections 135 and 136 of the Communications Act) to provide accurate information upon request, in a designated format, and within a reasonable time period.
On 1 October 2018, Ofcom opened an investigation into EE’s compliance with requests for 3G mobile coverage predictions across the UK under these rules. This followed on from the identification by Ofcom of errors in the 3G/2100 MHz coverage data that EE provided which meant that its 3G coverage was over-predicted, particularly in rural areas.
Ofcom’s investigation will examine whether there are reasonable grounds for believing that EE has failed to comply with its obligations under sections 135 and 136 of the Communications Act 2003.
We are aiming to complete our evidence gathering phase in this investigation by the end of December. We will publish a further update on next steps once that phase is complete.
Sarah Packwood (email: email@example.com)