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Vodafone calls for pan-European testing standards

But London is important too

Petek Ergul, head of networks at Vodafone, doesn't just have big plans for better mobile coverage. She claims Voda is actually rolling them out across the UK, with specific team working on “World Class London”.

While The Register Monopoly Pub Crawl surveyed 28 locations in London, Ergul wants to see a pan-European standard.

She points out that with such a large international footprint, Vodafone is well-placed to initiate such a programme, but that it would be more powerful if the standard were more widely embraced.

She did say that she particularly liked the ability to click on sites to find the stats in our Monopoly map produced by GWS.

One of the areas where Ergul has hopes that Vodafone will dominate is Voice, which she describes as a "hygiene factor". While our survey found 99.3 per cent availability – in central London – Ergul’s target for voice in Europe is 99.6 per cent. She said she monitors the data produced by the network on such things as dropped call rates and lack of availability, and is looking to meet "aggressive" key performance indicators (KPIs). She also takes data from corporate customers, customer services, Vodafone’s own survey teams and crowdsourced information such as Ookla. KPIs also include video where she expects a minimum of 1Mb/sec.

Data bandwidth should improve dramatically as there are imminent plans to roll out Carrier Aggregation to take on EE’s “Double Speed”.

One network strategy we’ve heard from a number of sources is that 3G will get pensioned off, leaving 2G for voice and moving customers to 4G for data. Ergul will not be doing this for Vodafone. She agrees that there is a need to retain and improve 2G coverage, in part to support the huge number of machine-to-machine systems that work on 2G for data and SMS.

But for voice, she argues, customers are better off on 3G. Sound quality is better and it’s more spectrum efficient. Of course 4G will be the way to go for data, and LTE-A is on the roadmap.

Despite servicing markets which stretch across Europe and Africa, project "World Class London" remains important for Vodafone. The city also has much greater site density. In fact, there is a dedicated London team for site acquisition alone.

It may be easier to counter NIMBY rejection than it was, but planning permission in the UK remains a nightmare – it takes around a year to go from identifying a requirement to building a site.

The emphasis on voice and desire to maintain a strong 3G network might chime well with The Register Monoploy Pub Crawl, but somehow I don’t think the Vodafone testers had as much fun as we did. ®

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