Growing consumer concerns that the 4G rollout is affecting 3G and 2G signals is ‘wrong’ but the industry needs to ensure its 3G customers do not feel neglected, the CEO of O2 has claimed.
Ronan Dunne was speaking amid increasing clamour on social networks about what they feel is the deterioration of their signal. Consumers have taken to Twitter to complain about poor reception and have blamed 4G for the issue.
Dunne said the industry as a whole needs to address what he said was a ‘perception issue’ among 3G customers that they are being neglected in favour of 4G. He said: ‘There’s a genuine danger among customers that they might think the conversation is all around 4G and the industry doesn’t care about them.’
However, he said that claims that the 4G rollout was affecting 3G and 2G speeds were wide of the mark. Dunne said: ‘One of the things that has been tweeted is 2G and 3G is getting worse because of 4G. Other than the physical exercise of taking down a mast, there’s nothing about rolling out 4G that is deteriorating coverage. I’m not dismissing that people are seeing an impact but the perception that 4G is making 2G and 3G worse is simply wrong.
‘We, as an industry, have to do a better job [of communicating the changes]. We have to be better at articulating this to customers.’
Dunne also backed EE’s CEO Olaf Swantee in his argument that changes to licence fee payments would affect investment. Each of the UK’s four operators are facing a bump in how much they pay for spectrum, under new proposals from Ofcom. Dunne said: ‘It shouldn’t go unnoticed that at a time when operators are being challenged to invest deeper and heavier than they have for a long time...With the likes of ‘fixed means fixed’ [contracts] or annual licence fees, there are a lot of costs being pushed on to operators...There’s very little else aside from reducing investment that can balance this.’
O2’s CEO was cagey about his company’s own 4G figures, as he discussed the company’s results for the three months ending 30 September. He said he did not want to create ‘an arms race’ in discussing sign-ups and added: ‘4G rollout is about six weeks ahead of schedule and we are now in 11 cities and 90 towns. We’ll be in 13 cities and more than 90 towns by the end of the year - that’s from 25% indoor population coverage to around 30%.’
Author: Graeme Neill