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Ofcom Research Reveals Big Gaps in 3G UK Mobile Broadband Coverage

Posted: 05th Nov, 2010 By: MarkJ
ofcomCommunications regulator Ofcom has today published the results of its initial research into UK mobile "not-spots", areas of the country where mobile reception is too weak to function properly, and found that 3G / Mobile Broadband services can currently reach 87% of the population (drops to 76% in terms of raw geographic coverage).

Sadly Scotland, Wales, the Southwest of England and Northern Ireland (with a high proportion of rural areas) obtain far lower 3G coverage than other parts of the UK. There is only 40% 3G population and geographic coverage in Northern Ireland where network deployment has so far been restricted to key urban areas only.

3g 2010 ofcom mobile broadband coverage

The research examined the impact of not-spots and found these varied - from daily effects like missing calls, to a loss of social connection or business efficiency, to undermining efforts to deal with emergencies. Understandably Ofcom sights "commercial considerations" as being one of the main causes for poor coverage, with rural areas producing a smaller return on investments.

Ofcom Report Quote

Across the UK as a whole, businesses’ dissatisfaction with the geographical availability of mobile services is much higher (12%) than for fixed lines (5%). And dissatisfaction with availability is significantly higher than the national average among businesses in Wales (17%) and in the Midlands (18%).

Dissatisfaction with the geographic availability of internet/data services is also double the national average (3%) in rural areas (6%) and higher in Scotland (8%) and the South of England (7%).

It's important to stress that many 3G networks are still being developed and future spectrum auctions, combined with the ability to repurpose existing 2G bands for use by 3G services, should help to reduce the problem. Still Ofcom envisages that "complete not-spots", which exist mostly in rural areas, seem likely to persist to some degree.

The regulator has already made investigating this issue one of its 2010-11 Annual Plan priorities. In particular it will seek to examine the scope for improving coverage information (to help consumers choose the best provider) and facilitating better railway coverage. Check out our 'Top Tips for Improving Mobile-Broadband Performance' for some useful information.
Ofcom - Mobile not-spots (PDF)
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/telecoms-research/not-spots/not-spots.pdf
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