Vodafone recently announced a major network investment in Bournemouth, which aims to bring 3G and 4G coverage to more than 98 percent of the town. Bournemouth locals use around a terabyte of data each day, so it’s important for Vodafone to be not only fast, but reliable both indoors and outdoors.

The move comes as part of a much larger investment with the company aiming to spend around £2 billion on upgrading masts nationwide by the end of 2015, which should help them to beat its main rival, EE. EE has the upper hand when it comes to 4G as it started its rollout almost a year prior to Vodafone, but the company is well on its way to beating its rivals as, according to a recent poll, Vodafone has the best signal in 34 cities in the UK.

Vodafone is currently 70 percent the way through implementing a 4G overlay system in Bournemouth, which aims to create better outdoor and indoor signal reliability for voice and data, while ensuring that concentrated areas of customers (i.e. at a festival) have the highest possible network capacity. The company wants to steer clear of situations that its rivals face, where the users phone will display a cellular connection, but won’t be able to use any of their phones functions.

See also: Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 review

So, how is Vodafone paving the way for more reliable signal? Signal frequencies are an important factor to consider, as the higher the frequency is, the less it will be able to penetrate walls and enable a strong, stable indoor connection. For example, EE uses 1800MHz for 4G and 2100MHz on 3G, whereas Vodafone prides itself on using a frequency of U900MHz for its 3G network, which mirrors its 2G frequency, and the 800MHz frequency for its 4G network, allowing for great wall penetration (which was used for analogue TV signals until recently).

Our transport in Bournemouth

We recently ventured to Bournemouth with Vodafone so the company could showcase its great signal reliability using a tombola system – we had to pick a random piece of paper out of the tombola, with each having a specific location in Bournemouth written on it. Whatever location were chosen from the tombola, we’d go and test Vodafone’s signal there and compare it to other networks.

While EE’s 4G signal was faster and just as responsive as Vodafone’s at our outdoor location (Boscombe Pier), the network proved its worth on our third and final stop at Poole museum.

As we stepped into the building, we had three bars of signal on our phone that was connected to EE’s 4G network. However, after walking a bit further into the building, the signal dropped out and we were left with no signal – and remained so for the rest of the time we were in the building. We’d occasionally get a connection with a single bar of signal, but we wouldn’t be able to call or text. However, every time we checked our Vodafone handset, we’d have at least three bars of 3G (there’s no 4G in the area yet) with the ability to make calls and even (albeit slowly) browse the internet.

Vodafone doesn’t want to compete with EE’s superfast 4G speeds, but instead wants to be the reliable network it has always strived to be. While fast 4G speeds are great, and Vodafone couldn’t match EE’s speeds in our speed tests, fast speeds aren’t of any use in situations where you can’t get a connection to your network – and we’d prefer having signal to having no signal, of course.

See also: LTE vs 4G: Why you're not getting true 4G speeds