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2015 mobile not-spot report reveals best and worst-covered parts of UK

  • East Anglia patchiest part of UK across a week – 56% experiencing not-spots at least once a week, 28% experiencing not-spots every day
  • Northern Ireland mobile users most frequent sufferers – 31% experiencing a not-spot every day
  • North West of England best covered – only 44% experiencing a not-spot at least once a week, only 17% experiencing not-spots every day
  • Average across UK – 48% of mobile users experience not-spots at least once a week, 21% every day

2 November 2015: East Anglia is the patchiest region in the UK for mobile phone signal, with not-spot sufferers in Northern Ireland experiencing them with the greatest frequency according to the 2015 results of Cable.co.uk’s inaugural annual not-spot study.

A not-spot is defined as a geographical location in which a person is unable to receive a mobile signal (voice, text or data).

More than half of people in East Anglia experience not-spots at least once a week, with 28% suffering from the problem every day. 31% of all mobile users in Northern Ireland experience a not-spot every single day.

According to Cable.co.uk’s user experience-focused report, the North-West of England is the best covered when it comes to mobile signal, with 44% of users experiencing a not-spot at least once a week, and 17% every day.

Averaged across the entire UK, 48% of mobile users experience not-spots at least once a week, while 21% experience one every day.

Cable.co.uk's report focuses on the experiences of 6,000 UK mobile users up and down the country to discover the frequency with which not-spots are encountered.

Past attempts by a variety of companies, bodies and groups to analyse the performance and coverage offered by UK mobile operators have been unable to offer insight into the scale of the UK's not-spot problem through daily experience.

Commenting on the results, Cable.co.uk's consumer telecoms expert, Dan Howdle said: "The UK mobile networks claim UK coverage of 99% plus. Anyone with a mobile phone can confirm their own experience doesn't tally up.

"That's because the 99% refers to population rather than to square mileage of the UK landmass. While there are are few great, gaping holes in the UK coverage map as a whole, here are countless pinprick locales where no signal exists and, as our report suggest, many of us disappear into them with alarming frequency. The UK is less solid signal and more 'signal sieve'.

"Not-spots are usually the result of hills or buildings blocking line of sight between the user and the mast, and are not confined to remote rural locales as many believe. Urban not-spots area major problem, particularly aggravating since it's harder to accept loss of signal with so much civilisation around you. Reportedly, the centre of London for example is extremely spotty.

"That half of us encounter a not-spot once a week or more often demonstrates that the UK still has a long way to go before not-spots are a thing of the past. Just don't expect that to happen any time soon. There is more profit in 5G than there is in patching holes."

National not-spot findings (charts)

The past: the birth of mobile internet

The past: the birth of mobile internet

Prominent not-spot stories for your reference

Additional resources

Notes to editors

  • A not-spot is defined as a geographical location in which a person is unable to receive a mobile signal (voice, text or data)
  • Data collected from 6,000 UK mobile users
  • To reduce not-spots the government has agreed a deal with the UK's four mobile networks (O2, EE, Vodafone and Three) to guarantee mobile coverage to 90% of the UK's landmass by 2017.
  • If using our research and/or commentary we would deeply appreciate a link either to this page or to https://www.cable.co.uk

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What is Cable?

Cable is a broadband, TV and phone comparator, unique news source and consumer champion.

Dan Howdle has been plugged into the attitudes of UK broadband, TV and mobile customers for over two decades, running research fieldwork both nationally and internationally on behalf of the biggest players in the industry. Dan is now consumer telecoms analyst at Cable, as well as more formally operating in the role of its Director of Communications and Content.

An experienced broadcaster, commentator and writer, Dan has appeared on BBC TV and radio, ITV, Sky and in the national papers. Dan has advised Ofcom on issues surrounding service quality, administered Cable’s Broadband Service Quality Awards and sat on the panel of judges for the Internet Service Providers Association annual awards.

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