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OpenSignal research reveals UK 4G coverage failings

Cornwall mobile coverage

Consumer group Which has claimed UK consumers are unable to access 4G networks nearly half of the time.

Based on research undertaken by OpenSignal, which compiled and analysed data gathered from nearly 30,000 users’ phones, Which reckons 47% of mobile connectivity in the UK is still based on 3G networks. OpenSignal’s research says this ranks poorly compares to 39 other countries around the world which experience 60% 4G connectivity or greater.

While Ofcom has pledged to get 4G mobile coverage up to 98% of UK homes by the end of 2017, the troublesome spots for operators appear to be travel routes like motorways or train lines. Drawing direct correlations between at-home connectivity and ubiquitous 4G, therefore, appears somewhat disingenuous.

The executive director of Which, Richard Lloyd, suggests there seems to be some sort of reluctance from mobile operators in the UK to improve their 4G coverage.

“Almost everyone now uses a mobile phone service and it’s not good enough that the UK is lagging behind so many countries with our 4G network coverage,” he said.  “Increasing 4G access s​hould be a priority for mobile providers and Ofcom must continue to push them to make this a reality.”

The Telecoms.com Intelligence Annual Industry Survey 2016 showed up LTE network infrastructure to be the most commonly identified business area targeted for investment by operators this year, with the exception of IoT. 45% of the 1,500 respondents to the survey said it’s a top priority in 2016, with LTE-Advanced rollouts also garnering 33% of the votes.

AIS LTE InvestmentDAS specialist Cobham Wireless claims the problem isn’t just down to installing more base-stations and that indoor coverage remains one of the biggest challenges to operators’ 4G ubiquity woes. New builds in metro areas have been attributed with blocking various radio signals from entering buildings; and Ian Langley, GM of Cobham Wireless says this is something operators in the UK need to overcome.

“Simply increasing the number of base stations in the area is unlikely to solve this problem, with modern coverage enhancement solutions required to allow high-capacity signals to penetrate the walls of many buildings,” he said. “Forward thinking operators around the world are already partnering with facilities managers of a range of sites, from shopping centres to metro stations, in order to ensure their subscribers’ can access reliable high speed and high capacity 4G indoors. The UK’s operators must follow suit if they are to offer their customers the reliable speeds they demand.”

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