Having been contacted by a number of constituents complaining about the poor Vodafone service on the Island, the Island’s MP, Andrew Turner, invited representatives from Vodafone to come to the Island to talk to a number of concerned Islanders who had contacted him about the issue.
Vodafone’s Senior Government Affairs Manager, Graham Dunn, blamed an increased use of smartphones leading to additional demands on 3G and 4G services and the fact that network providers are hampered by outdated regulations relating to planning permission and gaining access to their masts.
Dr Rob Matthews, Senior Network Manager for Vodafone UK, explained the technical issues, particularly relating to difficulties gaining access to their masts when problems occur. He stated that plans are in place to combine Telefonica (02) and Vodafone and to upgrade all base stations on the Island in the next 12 – 18 months.
Mark Peddie, who runs the Facebook page ‘Islanders for a proper Vodafone service’ complained about the lack of information given out to customers and told the Vodafone representatives that his page was providing the sort of information they themselves should be providing. He secured agreement from Graham Dunn that this would be taken back to Vodafone and improvements in communications would be made.
Mr Turner commented:
“I am grateful to the representatives from Vodafone for coming to the Island and explaining why all these problems have been experienced by their customers on the Island and what they are doing to improve the situation. I will be in contact with the Minister to see what can be done about updating regulations. Mr Dunn has agreed to answer all questions regarding changes to terms and conditions in the next two weeks. He has also agreed to come back to the Island in six months-time to give us an update on progress.
“From conversations which took place during the meeting I get the impression that it is not only Vodafone customers who are experiencing problems and this is why I am glad the Prime Minister recently stated that he was giving all the network providers the opportunity to improve their services but saying that if they don’t the Government will intervene to ensure necessary improvements are made”.
Graham Dunn from Vodafone commented:
“We recognise the importance of mobile connectivity which is why we are spending more than £1 billion on our network and services across the country this year with a pledge to provide coverage to 98% of the UK population using our 2G, 3G or 4G services.
“As part of this activity we continue to work to strengthen our existing mobile phone coverage across the island. As well as improving 3G coverage we are also beginning to switch on our 4G service in areas such as Sandown, Cowes and Newport.”
The words from Vodafone’s representative won’t give much comfort to Islanders, many of whom are stuck on the Vodafone service. Many customers are unhappy about the lack of 3G signal in Newport and after years of lies and misleading information, it has recently emerged 4G has been installed but not the more commonly used 3G.
James Flynn OBE, a Cowes resident who has done a great deal of research into the issues, has been in contact with an American company, Rootmetrics, who have undertaken to carry out an Islandwide survey of all networks, free of charge, subject to the support of the Isle of Wight Council and the Chamber of Commerce. It is hoped this can be carried out early next year.