Not meeting the required 80 per cent 3G coverage is causing O2 some grief from the U.K. regulator and headlines in the daily newspapers. The company has been accused by Ofcom of not meeting its licence conditions and is being threatened with having the term of its 3G licence cut by four months--estimated to be worth £40 million.
The company has accepted that its coverage only reached 75 per cent of the population by the end of 2007, instead of the mandated 80 per cent. The excuse given was that O2 had been concentrating on improving its indoor coverage-- arguing that it actually provided 3G coverage to more people as most spend more time indoors.
Ironically, this is exactly the kind of enforcement Ofcom would like to do away with. In the future, spectrum licences will be replaced with SURs (Spectrum Usage Rights) which won't have these kind of public-service remits attached.