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Vodafone Cough to Using Some of Three UK’s Mobile Spectrum

Friday, January 25th, 2019 (2:07 pm) - Score 16,903
wireless mobile network operator uk mast and spectrum

Mobile operator Vodafone has called it a “genuine mistake” after one of their cell sites at London’s Gatwick airport was spotted using Three UK’s slice of the 4G friendly 1800MHz radio spectrum band. The latter is now checking to see whether any other such mistakes have been made.

The spectrum frequency in question concerns the 5.8MHz downlink slice owned by Vodafone (1810.9 – 1816.7MHz) and the neighbouring 10MHz chunk owned by Three UK and formerly EE (1816.7 – 1826.7MHz), which includes a small sliver of frequency inbetween to act as a guard-band against interference (see Ofcom’s spectrum map).

Spectrum like this is highly valuable and operators pay a lot of money for it, which is why even a few wayward MHz can be such a concern. In this case it was discovered that Vodafone had harnessed a 10MHz block starting from 1813.8MHz, which meant they ended up slipping over the guard-band and into some of Three UK’s frequency, thus sapping performance and capacity from a rival.

A spokesperson for Vodafone told The Register that the problem had been caused by a subcontractor who had “inadvertently configured the site to work on the 10MHz bandwidth rather than the correct one,” which they say has now been corrected. “It was a genuine mistake and we are looking into it as a matter of urgency,” continued the spokesperson.

Ofcom said they were aware of the issue and had encouraged the two operators to resolve any remaining problems. Meanwhile Three UK confirmed the “error” and noted that “a number of our customers would have seen a drop in performance for a short period of time in this area. Other sites may have been affected and we are working with Vodafone to investigate this.”

In addition Three UK has humorously offered Vodafone some extra “support and training on mobile mast configuration.”

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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8 Responses
  1. Avatar Mike

    Well if they aren’t screwing customers they’re screwing fellow operators…

  2. Avatar Michael V

    Hahaha! That’s actually amusing!

  3. Avatar Percy

    Cough get a copy editor cough

  4. Avatar Stephen

    Be interesting to know who and how the mistake was “spotted”. If it was by Vodafone or someone acting for them then, well, difficult to say anything. If not then it would be a bit eyebrow raising.

    It makes me wonder what sort of processes they have in place when subcontractors configure masts. You have to note they used the term ‘subcontractor’ as it wafts responsibility toward a third party. I know I’m cynical but it’s funny how all these multimedia companies never make mistakes themselves, it’s always those pesky subcontractors failing to act in a manner befitting the contracting company’s astonishingly high standards.

    If you’re talking in terms of a setting that affects spectrum use for which tens or hundreds of millions of licensing dollar controls, you’d think there’s be a control or failsafe to stop some bloke in a high vis who hasn’t had his Weetabix bumbling something like that.

    Or perhaps not and the tech on the mast sites is taped together like something out of Doc Brown’s lab.

    • Avatar IanD

      It could’ve been spotted buy a spectrum analyser quite easily. Three may have noticed it when configuring their own kit.

  5. Avatar Optimist

    So not just drones then…

  6. Avatar CarlT

    Not good. Three really don’t need any help in running a poor mobile network.

  7. Avatar Brian

    Hi think there offer a great advice and I can say that it has never let me down.

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