Two thirds of the UK can now receive a “good” mobile signal from all four major operators, according to new data from Ofcom. However the disparities between urban and rural areas are still considerable.
The regulator’s annual Connected Nations report found that 66 per cent of the UK landmass has complete coverage, while 91 per cent can get a good signal from at least one 4G operator.
However while 96 per cent of urban locations have complete coverage, the figure is just 62 per cent elsewhere.
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UK mobile coverage
Ofcom says it hopes the £1 billion Shared Rural Network, which plans to increase 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK, will have a positive impact in the near future, while it also noted the planned rollouts of 5G from all four operators.
In terms of fixed broadband, three million properties can now get access to full fibre – up by 1.4 million from last year. This amounts to ten per cent of the UK compared to just six per cent last year.
More than half of premises can receive ‘ultrafast’ broadband of more than 300Mbps while superfast broadband coverage stands at 95 per cent. However Ofcom is keen to see takeup increase as the government considers a switch off of the UK’s copper network in the medium future – especially since fibre services are available at no extra cost.
There’s also a need for the Universal Service Obligation (USO) to ensure all homes and businesses have access to at least 10Mbps. The figure of those without that minimum standard has fallen significantly over the past months from 2 per cent to 0.5 per cent, however.
“This year we’ve seen full-fibre broadband grow at its fastest ever rate, and all four mobile networks launch 5G,” said Yih-Choung Teh, Strategy and Research Group Director at Ofcom.
“But despite this good progress, there is more to do to bring all parts of the country up to speed– particularly rural areas. So we’re working with industry and the Government to help bring better services to people who need them.”
“While it is good to see significant progress when it comes to full-fibre, the continuing dire state of 4G coverage across the country is a huge concern and risks leaving many consumers behind,” added Caroline Normand, Which? Director of Advocacy.
“The new Government now not only needs to urgently set out an ambitious and joined-up strategy to deliver an improved digital infrastructure but lessons must be learned from the slow take-up of superfast broadband to ensure consumers understand the benefits of these better quality connections”
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.