Vodafone 4G reaches 50 per cent of UK population


UK CEO Jeroen Hoencamp says slow and steady rollout will win the 4G race

Vodafone UK CEO Jeroen Hoencamp has defended the network’s 4G rollout after revealing it now provides 4G to more than 50 per cent of the UK a week after EE revealed it had reached almost 80 per cent.

The UK’s third largest operator has invested more than £1 billion in its UK network over the last year and provides 4G in 382 cities, towns and communities but is still lagging behind rival EE.

In a blog on Vodafone’s website, Hoencamp claimed that when it comes to mobile data, “speed only gets you so far” and that reliability was a much bigger priority for the operator.

“For us it’s about having the strongest network,” Hoencamp said. “Wherever we build 4G, we’ve proved that we can deliver great unbeatable 4G speeds and coverage, but it’s not a race to have the highest speeds because when it comes to mobile, speed only gets you so far.

“It’s not about who’s got the most coverage, it’s more about having the strongest signal. We’d love to expand the network faster, but it’s about doing it right first time; I’d rather do it at the pace we’re doing and get it right, than try to go faster and build a thin and flimsy network.”

Low Frequency Spectrum

The UK chief pointed to Vodafone’s low frequency 4G spectrum, which is better suited for providing signal indoors, as a difference-maker for Vodafone.

He also appeared to take a swipe at EE’s launch of 150Mbps 4G+ at the end of October by questioning the need for speeds over 20Mbps.

EE launched its LTE-Advanced network at 150 London sites including Shoreditch, Old Street, Southbank, Soho, Westminster and Kensington, but it is only compatible with two handsets: The Samsung Alpha and Note 4.

Hoencamp said: “We could build a network just to achieve massive speeds but the reality is that you don’t currently need anything beyond 20Mbps on a mobile device. Even for streaming video you only need a couple of megabits per second, so we think less about absolute speed and more about bandwidth.”

Vodafone had 1.4 million 4G customers last time it released figures, behind EE, with 7.7 million and O2, with  3 million. O2’s 4G network covered around 45 per cent of the UK, while Three covered 48 per cent at their last count.