Ofcom to hold ‘walk and drive’ 3G and 4G network tests

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Regulator to use over-the-counter handsets, with tests assessing whether UK networks have achieved consistency

Ofcom is to conduct its own (not commissioned) operator-specific 3G and 4G network testing for the first time.

The regulator said it will use standard, over-the-counter consumer handsets when conducting the tests rather than customised hardware such as those used by network testing company P3 – whose research is used by Vodafone and EE.

Ofcom will conduct “walk and drive” testing across the UK to assess whether the four operators – EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 – have achieved consistency, with the results expected in the autumn.

Ofcom will also compile a report focusing on the quality of coverage on UK roads and rail routes – the results of which will be passed on to the Department of Transport and Network Rail.

An Ofcom statement said: “Once the report is finished we will consider whether any regulatory or government intervention is required to achieve wider coverage.

“We are currently considering a range of methods, including requesting data from operators and commissioning ‘walk and drive’ testing for quality of service, too.”

Ofcom added it was aware of the confusion surrounding network testing in the UK, given the increasing number of reports being issues by multiple firms, often with contradictory results.

Quality of experience
Vodafone recently slammed a report from RootMetrics in which it was seen as the UK worst performer. EE was top.

Ofcom said: “We are aware of the emergence of a number of companies that are publishing information on quality of experience and we will take this into account when deciding how, where and when to undertake and publish our own research.”

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