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Seven million more people can access 4G than a year ago

Wednesday, February 15th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Seven million more people had access to 4G at the end of 2016 than a year earlier, a new report has revealed.

Analytics firm RootMetrics has calculated that about 54m people across the UK’s four major operators – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – can now access 4G, compared to 47m at the end of 2015.

The reliability of the UK’s mobile networks has also improved by 8% – meaning fewer dropped calls and a better web browsing experience for consumers.

RootMetrics’ report for the second half of 2016 shows EE continuing to perform well, with the provider picking up every national RootScore Award – for reliability, speed, data, text, call and overall.

EE was also the only operator to achieve median download speeds of more than 20Mbps in each of the 16 ‘metro’ areas tested.

Vodafone, Three and O2 improved on their scores in the first half of the year to tie with EE in several regional categories.

EE and Three shared the network reliability award in Wales, EE and Vodafone shared the text and call awards in Scotland, and the call and text awards in Northern Ireland were shared between EE, Vodafone and O2.

RootMetrics said its researchers drove nearly 24,000 miles in the second half of 2016, collecting more than 800,000 samples.

Its tests were conducted around the clock while driving and at 847 indoor locations.

Demand for data is 'exploding'

“Our independent, comprehensive, and scientific testing showed significant increases in both 4G availability and the reliability of mobile services over the past year across all networks,” said Scott Stonham, general manager of Europe at RootMetrics.

“Consumer demand for data-heavy services – such as video and music streaming – is exploding. As consumers hunt for the strongest performance they can afford, mobile operators are making investments to make sure they keep up.”

A report by the National Infrastructure Committee (NIC) in December wasn’t as positive about Britain’s 4G networks.

The NIC said the UK was littered with “digital deserts and partial not-spots”, and ranked only 54th in the world for 4G coverage.

NIC chairman Lord Adonis said the typical mobile user “can only access 4G barely half the time”.

“That isn’t just frustrating, it is increasingly holding British business back as more and more of our economy requires a connected workforce.”

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