Telecommunications watchdog Ofcom today revealed it's Connected Nations 2016 report, highlighting the status of mobile and fixed broadband coverage across the UK. Even though the report noted significant improvement in both areas since last year, it added that a lot more needs to be done to ensure everyone stays connected, especially in rural areas as well as in motorways.
UK 4G coverage full of digital deserts and notspots, says National Infrastructure Commission
The Ofcom report noted with satisfaction that while only 28% of UK premises received 4G mobile coverage from the top four networks in 2015, the figure has gone up to 72% this year. The larger coverage is the result of all four operators rolling out faster mobile broadband on a large scale. However, this also means that 28% of premises are still beyond the reach of all four networks and Ofcom has thus instructed O2 and the other networks to increase their 4G coverage to 98% of UK premises by the end of next year.
While close to three in four premises are now receiving 4G signals from the major networks, geographical 4G coverage offered by the four networks across the country is still poor, even though major improvement has taken place over the last year. According to Ofcom's report, total geographic 4G coverage has risen from 8% in 2015 to 40% this year, signifying an increase by five times, but rural areas as well as motorways and railways continue to suffer from lack of coverage, leaving travellers high and dry.
The geographic area which doesn't receive voice signals from all four networks has gone down from 42% in 2015 to 34% but Ofcom is confident that the improvement will be much better by the end of next year thanks to an agreement being inked between the Government and the major networks. Signed a couple of years ago, the agreement called for a guaranteed £5bn investment on 4G coverage by the four networks till 2017 and guaranteed voice and text coverage from each operator across 90 per cent of the UK geographic area by 2017.
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Ofcom's report comes a couple of days after a report by the National Infrastructure Commission which stated that Britain ranks 54th in the world on 4G mobile coverage and 39 other countries where phone users could access 4G signals at least 60 per cent of the time.
"Britain is 54th in the world for 4G coverage, and the typical user can only access 4G barely half the time. Our 4G network is worse than Romania and Albania, Panama and Peru. Our roads and railways can feel like digital deserts and even our city centres are plagued by not spots where connectivity is impossible. That isn’t just frustrating, it is increasingly holding British business back as more and more of our economy requires a connected workforce," said the report.
Source: Ofcom Connected Nations 2016