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Anglian Farmers Call for Better UK Mobile Broadband and Phone Coverage

Monday, February 17th, 2014 (8:23 am) - Score 459
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A new survey conducted by Anglian Farmers, which is the largest agricultural purchasing group in the UK with a buying power in excess of £250m, claims to demonstrate the need for better rural mobile network coverage. Sadly it also comes up a bit short on both detail and comparisons.

It’s understood that about 130 AF members, based all over the United Kingdom, took part in the seemingly anecdotal survey that was conducted between 1st October and 7st November 2013. During this period the “success and failure rates of telephone calls, text messages and data connections” for each of their telephone numbers was monitored.

Overall 36,109 call attempts were made and this resulted in an average call setup success rate of 99.13% (note: an average of 0.95% of calls during this period were dropped). The study also revealed that the worst affected site during the test period had 21 errors (failed calls), with 11 sites reporting more than 12 errors. Apparently this is considered a bad result.

Clarke Willis, AF CEO, said:

The data from this survey shows that mobile phone signal can be very poor in some areas. This is a problem we have been aware of for some time and this data gives us a platform to work from to try push for improvements.

For people to have whole days when they cannot connect a call or send a text message is a real issue and we are working hard to do all we can to improve the service for our members, and for all those who live and run businesses in rural areas for whom poor mobile phone signal and slow broadband cause problems.”

Unfortunately the survey doesn’t mention what tests, if any, were conducted on data links and whether the connection was established via a 2G, 3G or 4G network. Similarly the structure of the survey would appear to be inadequate for testing the coverage of each area on all of the major mobile networks because it’s presumed that only one mobile per person was being tested (i.e. one operator / contract).

Likewise it’s not known if the farmers had their exact location logged, thus we can only assume that they were present somewhere on their farm (note: some farmers have several miles of farm land where the signal may vary). On top of that no comparison with urban areas is offered, although a quick look at some of RootMetric’s recent city studies (here) suggests that a call success rate of 99.13% might actually be better than a fair number of big cities.

The reality is that gauging mobile reception can be a complicated business and requires a much broader study to map correctly, especially in terms of Mobile Broadband connectivity and signal strength. Meanwhile the government’s £150m Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP) is currently working to help 3G or 4G services become available to “at least” 98% of UK people by the end of 2015, although this will only help 60,000 premises (it was originally said that 900,000 premises lacked full mobile coverage).

Ofcom are shortly expected to publish a new and much more detailed survey of UK mobile broadband performance and coverage.

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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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