EE plans £275M investment to improve mobile call quality

EE has been conducting a sustained campaign on its LTE broadband services over the past year, but the UK operator is now turning its attention to a more traditional mobile service: voice calls.

The Orange and Deutsche Telekom-owned company said it plans to invest £275 million ($448 million or €326 million) in mobile calls during 2014 in order to "set a new benchmark for voice call quality and reliability" and build on the improvements it made to its 2G and 3G networks during 2013.

EE said over one-third of its total £1.5 billion network investment will go toward improving standards in phone call quality and reliability. The company said it has already achieved its highest ever call success rate of 99.2 per cent while carrying over 1 billion calls every week, and is now targeting a dropped call rate of 0.5 per cent by the end of 2014.

"I think the UK mobile industry can do better, and we intend to improve the experience for our customers, taking our quality and reliability to levels to those achieved by other operators across Europe," EE CEO Olaf Swantee said in a statement.

EE further noted that although mobile data services are currently receiving the most attention in the mobile industry, being able to make a phone call when they need to is still the vital aspect of the mobile experience for the majority of its customers.

"We carried more voice calls on our network than ever before this year, and we know that call reliability is essential for our customers," added Swantee.

As well as upgrading existing voice networks, EE has also conducted trials of future call services such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and voice over Wi-Fi.

As for LTE data services, EE said its 4GEE services will be available in 160 UK towns and cities by Christmas.

However, it seems that the company has some room for improvement when it comes to customer support for its fixed broadband services, which it offers alongside its mobile broadband services. The latest figures from UK telecoms regulator Ofcom for the third quarter say Orange/EE generated the most complaints for broadband as a proportion of its customer base, at 0.45 per 1,000 customers--more than double the industry average. Complaints were mainly driven by problems with billing and service faults, Ofcom said.

Meanwhile, Ofcom received the most complaints about pay-monthly mobile services from T-Mobile UK customers during the third quarter of 2013. The regulator said T-Mobile UK, also owned by EE, generated above average complaints at 0.13 per 1,000 customers, largely driven by issues related to billing and complaints handling.

For more:
- see this EE release
- see this Ofcom release

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