Network rationalisation causes reception problems for EE customers in Wales
Following the merger of Orange and T-Mobile to form Everything Everywhere (EE), there was in many cases an initial improvement in coverage and signal strength as EE enabled their customers to roam via both sets of masts.
However, this has been followed by consolidation/rationalisation of masts, decommissioning many masts and moving equipment to other masts which were considered to provide adequate cover.
In many cases this has resulted in Orange customers suffering loss or degradation of their signal, and in some other cases it is the former T-Mobile customers who are suffering - obviously this problem is most acute in topographically-challenging areas.
Considerable consumer detriment has therefore occurred, and for affected consumers the matter is extremely urgent. Clearly Ofcom cannot enforce particular masts to remain operational, but since the result for the consumer represents a step-change in the service provided under his/her contract, we would advocate that Ofcom should approach EE and encourage EE to allow affected customers to terminate their contract and switch supplier without incurring early termination charges.
EE will surely wish to avoid any potential reputational damage that might occur if they do not agree. The termination process should be made simple and straighforward for affected customers.
Kim Brook is the Communications Consumer Panel Member for Wales