Walking before we can run with LTE

A recent report by Which? investigating 4G across the UK has singled out Middlesbrough as the area with the best 4G coverage, with 83% availability. The same report, which tested coverage in 20 major UK cities, placed Bournemouth as the worst area for 4G connectivity with 67.5% availability. The report also highlighted the inconsistency of coverage across the nation, with significant variations between cities.

The inadequacy of the UK’s 4G coverage is not news to many. Last year an OpenSignal report showed that UK mobile users only receive 4G connectivity 53% of the time, but the latest figures reinforce our opinion that something must be done to improve UK connectivity on the whole, and, crucially, consistency of coverage.

People across the country rely on a consistent connection for a range of reasons whether it be for business or in their personal lives, and we’ve all grown to heavily rely on mobile data. There is not one area of the country where connectivity is more or less vital, so it follows that 4G should be accessible and consistent no matter where you are.

In late 2016, a barrage of reports underlined the extent of the UK’s problem with 4G. A report by the National Infrastructure Commission showed that the UK was ranked 54th in the world for 4G mobile coverage. Research by Ofcom then also found that 4G coverage where there was signal from each of the 4 big operators reached only 40% of the UK.

It’s clear that progress needs to be made. Finally, around 5 years after the initial rollout of 4G, Ofcom are introducing new rules to catalyse its advancement, claiming that the rules will ensure that “virtually all UK premises must receive 4G signal by the end of this year.”

Despite the fact that the 4G network in place across the UK is below par and inconsistent, many mobile providers are now concerning themselves more with the development of 5G, rather than improving what is already in place. 5G is at least two years away, and the UK public cannot be expected to wait until then for widespread and consistent coverage.