O2: the UK's largest operator, with the poorest 3G coverage

While it has secured exclusive distribution rights to the iPhone, Palm Pre and other 3G smartphones, O2 has been slated by the UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, as being one of the poorest providers of 3G coverage.

The information that O2 and Vodafone scored lowest on 3G coverage has only been revealed since Ofcom published 3G coverage maps for the first time. The maps dismiss the 90 per cent and higher 3G coverage claims made by most of the major networks. In fact even those operators that do come out well still show numerous flat spots which must test the confidence and belief of consumers that they can enjoy a seamless high speed mobile broadband experience.

However, given that Ofcom has produced the maps based upon theoretical calculations rather than involving extensive footwork in real world scenarios, the door is open for these results to be rubbished by the operators.

While Ofcom would give the impression that this information has been open to public inspection, the maps were only published after a business journalist forced the government agency to reveal the data under the Freedom of Information Act. Only last year, Ofcom went to the UK High Court to prevent the publication of the information, which must raise the question of what was being hidden?

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