3G mobile coverage requirements now met

31 January 2014

All of the UK's major mobile phone networks are now meeting their 3G coverage obligations, Ofcom confirmed today.

In November, Ofcom announced that the mobile operators EE, Three and O2 had all met an obligation to cover 90% of UK homes by June 2013. However, one operator, Vodafone, had failed to meet the obligation, reaching 88.66%.

Vodafone subsequently agreed plans with Ofcom to bring itself into compliance with the 3G coverage obligation by the end of 2013. Following a further coverage assessment, Ofcom has now found that Vodafone met its obligation ahead of this deadline.

Ofcom takes the requirements of its licensees very seriously, and breaches of these obligations can incur a penalty. In this case, once informed by Ofcom, Vodafone provided a plan to address the shortfall. This involved work to upgrade 129 mobile transmitter sites, which was completed on time.

Having taken these factors into account, and the margin by which the target was missed, Ofcom has decided that it will not take any further action on this occasion.

Improving mobile coverage

Mobile coverage is as a priority area for Ofcom, which is leading and supporting several initiatives to improve mobile coverage and provide consumers with high-quality information on reception, as part of a five point plan.

Ofcom will carry out research into the quality of mobile reception and coverage, such as information on the proportion of 'dropped' calls that consumers experience. Ofcom will also publish new data revealing 3G and 4G mobile broadband performance in the spring.

Ofcom has placed a coverage obligation on a licence acquired by O2, which requires the company to extend indoor 4G coverage to 98% of the UK population by 2017 at the latest. This will mean coverage of more than 99% of the UK population when outdoors.

After 4G roll out has been completed, there will be a small proportion of homes where providing mobile services is not commercially viable. The Government is spending up to £150m on new mobile infrastructure to bring services to these areas.

Ofcom has published an online guide on how consumers can maximise their mobile coverage.



  1. Ofcom news release from November 2013 on Vodafone having missed its obligation.
  2. The UK Government is also examining the issue of mobile coverage on trains. The Department of Transport announced in September that the rail industry is to roll out high speed mobile broadband on the busiest parts of Britain’s rail network.