Phone users vent frustration at Vodafone ‘fault’

More signal problems in North Devon but no plans to upgrade local network.

VODAFONE says it has no current plans to improve network coverage in Ilfracombe, despite hundreds of complaints from long-suffering mobile phone users.

Frustrated customers have been bemoaning an intermittent signal in the town for more than seven months, with the latest outage causing a blackout for many throughout North Devon on Wednesday and Thursday last week.

Vodafone said the recent fault was caused by a problem at an undisclosed hub site that went down early on Wednesday morning. Engineers confirmed that they’d resolved the issue on Friday morning.

Spokesperson Jane Frapwell said the affected hub fed into half-a-dozen phone masts and that the company was aware the problem was affecting other sites

She said: “We would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused but we are working to get the problem fixed.”

But despite a growing catalogue of complaints, new technology being rolled out by the company is unlikely to reach the area this year.

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In a letter to North Devon MP Nick Harvey, the firm said that network and infrastructure planning was managed by Cornerstone, a collaboration between Vodafone and Telefonica UK (O2).

Vodafone’s head of Government affairs, Paul Morris, said: “Our roll-out plans are regularly reviewed to make sure that resources are best used to provide maximum benefit to our customers.

“Unfortunately Ilfracombe isn’t currently listed in Cornerstone’s plans for this year.”

Mr Morris did say, however, that investment was being made in innovations to provide solutions to coverage challenges in so-called “not spots” such as Ilfracombe.

He said: “A major step forward is our ‘Sure Signal’ product which uses femtocell technology to connect to the Vodafone network via a broadband connection. It improves coverage for people and small businesses that have access to a broadband service of at least 1Mbps.”

The news is unlikely to please local Vodafone customers, who have been logging complaints from various areas of North Devon for more than seven months.

A special forum on the company’s own website has been attracting comments from people all over North Devon since August last year, while a Facebook group created in September last year has more than 130 members.

The Facebook page was originally called Vodafone Ilfracombe but changed its name to Vodafone North Devon after people from other areas joined to air similar annoyances.

One poster to the Vodafone forum, Mike Fryers, said the issues had been ‘consistent’ since he switched to Vodafone five months ago.

Another, Tiernsee, said: “Yet again there is no signal in EX32, this must be the third time in two weeks.

“The situation with Vodafone in North Devon has been appalling recently and I am strongly considering changing service providers both for personal and business use.”

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