Fight! Fight! Fight! 3 and Orange scrap over 3G coverage

11 November 2009

On a day that the Inland Revenue wins an award for business innovation, you know the planet has been knocked off its moral axis and sent spinning into some special sort of Hell. In fact it's the perfect opportunity for mobile service provider 3 to whine they're been badly done to and nothing's right or fair. Why? 3 is marching Orange to the Advertising Standards Authority for claiming that it has the biggest 3G network in the country.

Bitterwallet - 3g coverage
Orange has spent over £4 million in advertising and marketing recently, to tell consumers its 3G network covers 93 per cent of the population. 3 obviously disagree, claiming it has the largest 3G network. A spokesman for 3 said:

“We’re confident that we have the biggest 3G network in the UK — both in terms of geographic and population coverage — built on a 9,192-site network that grows by about 150 sites each week. It’s no surprise consumers are being confused about coverage.”

We haven't heard any customers expressing confusion but let's put that aside for now. Orange, how do you plead?

“The figure that 3 has published shows that we have a greater 3G population coverage than they do. We think that’s something to shout about and that’s why we’re telling our customers — and theirs — about it. It’s not how many masts you have; it’s where you stick them.”

3 is arguing that there are different types of measurement for this sort of thing, each providing a slightly different set of results, and that an independent third party is required to measure coverage. Obviously Ofcom aren't up to the job, then? In the meantime, consumers will just have to make their purchasing decisions based on other preferences, like customer service for example. On second thoughts, it's 3 and Orange we're talking about - that won't work either.

[The Times]


  • Harry
    What about 3G coverage in doors? O2 smokes them all for that. Its not about the area you cover, its about covering the area that matters, where people are in their homes, in offices etc
  • xman
    I wonder where Harry lives? No, O2 3G in my house or indeed in my garden. A lot of places I go I can't even a phone signal for O2 let alone a data signal. Mind, I'm not moving to Orange with their 750M data cap.
  • My P.
    great to see a tiny white dot above my house on both of those maps!
  • James
    Anywhere off the beaten track and my phone on orange failed both on phone and data. Anywhere at all and my Three mobile failed. O2 has been much better for me. Rarely out of signal for phone, but data can be sporadic at times.
  • Junkyard
    Yeah Harry, damn right. I'm often sat here with my landline and my 25meg broadband connection, wishing I could get a signal on my mobile broadband too. So what if I can't get a signal while I'm out and about, as long as it works in the places where I already have a connection.
  • Bet S.
    I used to work for one of the named phone companies and i can safely say that their claims for 3g domination are horse manure of the highest level. Even though they claim coverage, you try connecting to 3g or data access anywhere outside of London. Or for that matter, anywhere with a roof and walls. I left that company because i got tired of the network constantly failing to meet minimum requirements and the torrent of customer abuse we'd receive.
  • Graham
    I don't know why they are bitching. T-Mobile and 3 have set up a 3G network company that shares their coverage. T-Mobile and Orange are merging next year (in media in September and the agreement signed last week, so its off to the europe regulators now). This means in the long term, all three networks will be sharing the same masts.
  • Jeffrey A.
    I own both a T-Mobile (who claim to use 3's 3g network) and Orange mobile. Both HTC Diamond 2's (one work, one personal). People are fed up of me abusing my personal (T-Mobile) phone because it never gets a signal. Anywhere important. Work are fed up of my taking the piss and using my work (Orange) mobile for everything - because I get signal everywhere my personal phone doesnt. Real world coverage, not bollocksy map made by monkeys on phets coverage, says 3/T-Mobile are full of shit. When I first got my T-Mobile phone, and couldn't get a signal at home, I called T-Mobile and asked them to check signal coverage in my area. Apparently, from my postcode, 3g coverage was 'excellent'. Quite why I was sat there with no fucking signal and calling from my house phone, the customer service wanker could not explain.
  • A P.
    I've just left 3 for o2. Having a phone that works indoors, and where the battery lasts for more than a day, is something of a revelation. Plus I now get to hear the satisfying THUDTHUDTHUD when I put my phone next to my alarm clock. Great.
  • paolo
    Unrelated - I've not been able to receive incoming calls on 3 for 3 weeks now - anyone else had this? Can I cancel my contract? Anyone?...
  • Tipster
    @ Paolo I get dropped calls on 3 after 10-15 seconds at various sites over london... Not the phone cos I've tried the sim in several phones... Vodafone here I come!
  • veedubjai
    @ Posted by Bet Soba | November 11th, 2009 at 1:11 pm I feel your pain. You're not the only one here. I currently work for an UK based outsourced contact centre [yep, cheap wages compare to been employed direct] for the UK's biggest mobile network, O2 & I can expect this everytime when people claims the coverage is weak or non-existance. Don't get me wrong I do mostly enjoy my job [over 5 years service & I know my shit] helping people when problems arises but I do get the occasional stiff upper-lip tossers who don't give a rats-arse who know better than I do & can do a better job. Most of them keep their handsets/simcards active for God-knows how long since last switched off or even clean the simcard. Would any lunatic keep their TV's, radios, DVD players, turned on all the time? Now that's a recipe for disaster claiming not getting a signal. Most people don't realise that mobile phones/simcards are just as fragile like anything else but most treat them without any respect. I can guarantee you that NO mobile phone network in the world even in the UK alone will claim to say 100% network coverage 24/7/365 but yet people expect to be covered even inside properties at all times. Just read the mobile phone network service T&C's closely which most people have disregard & ignore them but when the shit hits the fan they all come crying back for forgiveness. What is the point of T&C's in the first place? To protect the customers & the business interests in question! Most will say in the best interest of good coverage to keep the network coverage service levels to optimum performance as much as possible. Would anyone claim to be never been sick before & expects to work at 100% performance at all times? Impossible don't you think? They will be on occasions when things go down when not least expected. End of the day, your mobile phone is just like a mini receiver & transmitter based on radio waves just like a portable radio. There a alot of factors involved when it comes to network coverage like geography, atmospheric conditions, buildings that have think walls/thick insulation, damaged/broken/decommissioned/power/fire to transmitters, any issues that are outside/beyond the control of mobile phone network, etc that can cause potential blackspots even if network coverage claims to be best 3G coverage. If everyone is so concerned about registering to new connection or upgrading to another mobile phone network & getting a good network coverage. Is it really that difficult to sign up for PAYG simcard for trial period before signing up a lengthy pay monthly contract? Finally got this off my chest. May decide to hand in my notice as I'm sick & tired of customers constant verbal abuse & disrespect that we are just simply messengers in the corporate ladder & doing our best to help the helpless for peanuts. Is there job satisfaction anymore these days?
  • Marcus S.
    veedub jai, if you "know your shit" then I'd hate to see one of your co-monkeys (workers) that you thought didn't have a clue. No wonder people hate call-centre staff. "Would any lunatic keep their TV’s, radios, ... turned on all the time?" Jep, many people do and without issue.
  • veedubjai
    @ Posted by Marcus de Sade | November 12th, 2009 at 6:55 pm Unless you have worked in one before, you wouldn't know what it is like. Is it ever wonder that most big corporations are using outsource centres based in UK only. It all boils down to keep running costs lower but customer expectations wants the best customer service so there is a trade off in running in the business. When the things get going like the credit crunch, the going gets tough. It is the outsource centre employees that will go first. You will be surprise that even some call-centre staff really don't give a toss when it comes to assisting the customer with issues as there are more concern about one own's monthly peformance figures. What happens, is I have to pick up the shit to fix it for the customer when something goes tits up for one other's incompetence. Customer care does not make much money for call centre businesses so not all call centre staff are on commissions & are paid by the hour. Staff turnover is very usually high in call centres due to the level of stress one receives each day let alone been on the phone upto 8 hours a day 5 days a week listening to customers yapping about this & that. You got team leaders/managers on your backside trying to squeeze every life/soul from you to received as many calls as possible in a day. Again, target driven by the clients who expects low running cost with best customer care. Who suffers end of the day, the customer & the customer service advisors who most a majority will try to do their best but take abuse & disrespect on both directions from customers & team leaders/team managers. Try calling direct to O2 & you will certainly be asked to complete a satisfaction survey based on the call centre advisor's performance at end of the call but every time you call, you will be asked the same question to complete this again. The more you call, the more you will be asked for market research. So complete the survey & leave a note that you don't need to be asked this every single time when you call. This is target driven by O2 directly. So not all call-centre staff are bad but only a minority who don't give a toss or care for the rest of other collegues who strive to do their best. So losing me is not going to make much of a difference but lose a lot of good staff then the customers will suffer. With the shit that I know, it's time for better & newer pastures on the horizon. This was meant to be 3 and Orange scrap over 3G coverage not about me. I aware that many people do keep & do leave their TV's radio...turned on all the time [24/7] but it wouldn't last for a lifetime would it if not treated with care?
  • Marcus S.
    My trinitron from 1993 is still going strong, despite not being treated with much care. Same for most things I own - material possessions aren't for the cuddling and hugging and loving - they are for using. They are tools. You have highlighted your problem yourself in the post - the problem is rampant capitalism/globalisation - both in outsourcing support to the third world (PROFiT!~) and in developing low-quality trash that dies within a couple of years (PROFiT! from "saving costs", then PROFiT! again when the customer replaces it).
  • Hollie
    I Am Going To Go Crazy. O2 is a complete fuck up at the minute many people i know are experiencing the same stupid fucking problem with no signal and no chance on earth of recieving and sending text messages. What the hell is going on, i think i'd rather prefer two cans on a peice of string
  • Loan P.
    And what about 4G?

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