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4G availability and speed varies across UK cities

Wednesday, May 3rd 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The speed and availability of 4G mobile networks varies wildly across the UK, a new report claims.

Data from Which? and OpenSignal shows that 4G coverage in major UK cities ranges from 83% in Middlesbrough to 68% in Bournemouth.

The speed of 4G connections also differs across the country, from 26.6Mbps in Stoke-on-Trent to 17.6Mbps in Brighton and Hove.

A report by RootMetrics last week also looked at UK cities and found Belfast to have the UK's best mobile network.

OpenSignal collects data from smartphone users who’ve downloaded its app and for its latest report used more than 500m data readings from 30,000 users.

The company said 4G availability across the UK is 65% meaning users can access a 4G signal, on average, nearly two-thirds of the time.

That’s lower than any of the cities featured in the report, suggesting the real connectivity problems lie not in cities at all but in rural areas.

Which? is calling for the next government to work with Ofcom and providers to make “critical reforms” to the mobile market.

Alex Neill, the consumer group’s managing director of home products and services, said: “These latest findings underline the need for Ofcom to keep the pressure on mobile operators, so that every part of the country gets a decent service on their mobile phone.

“Our mobile phone is central to how we live our lives and that is why it is so frustrating when we can’t access emails or browse the internet on the go.”

The CLA, which represents landowners and rural businesses, has said the new government should make rural 4G coverage one of its main priorities.

CLA president Ross Murray said: “Delivering universal 4G mobile coverage is essential to modern rural life.”

The organisation is also calling for the government to commit to regular increases in the minimum speed set out in its new Universal Service Obligation (USO) and to provide more rural homes with fibre to the premises broadband.

The new USO, part of the Digital Economy Bill passed last week, will be set at 10Mbps and will be reviewed by Ofcom when superfast take-up reaches 75%.

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