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Ofcom maps UK mobile coverage

Ofcom has published its first UK telecoms infrastructure report, which shows that large areas of the country have little or no 3G coverage at all
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By Ben Woods, Senior reporter on
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UK Ofcom 2G and 3G coverage

Ofcom has published a map of the UK's mobile 2G and 3G coverage that shows exactly how well each area of the country performs, as part of the regulator's communications infrastructure report.

The interactive, zoomable map — published on Tuesday — follows on the heels of Ofcom's fixed-line broadband speed map. It ranks each area of the country on a scale of one to five denoted by colour, with green offering the best coverage and red the worst.

Buttons on the right-hand side of the map allow users to select between 2G and 3G coverage by premises or by geographical area. Transparency of the map can also be adjusted.

Ofcom's report found that 73 percent of UK premises receive 3G coverage from all major UK network operators. However, by geographic area, only 13 percent of the country is covered by the major operators. Additionally, it found that 30 percent of the country by area did not have 3G coverage from any operator. In comparison, only one percent of UK premises were not covered by any providers.

2G coverage fared better in the report, with 97 percent of UK premises receiving coverage from all operators. "The maps show that 97 percent of premises and 66 percent of the UK landmass can receive a 2G signal outdoors from all four 2G networks," Ofcom said."This means that approximately 900,000 UK premises do not have a choice of all four 2G mobile networks."

2G coverage is suitable for making phone calls and sending text messages, Ofcom added.

The image above shows UK 3G coverage by geographical area, keyed by colour. Green represents 95 percent coverage or better; blue between 90 and 95 percent; orange between 80 and 90; and magenta between 60 and 80. Red represents 60 percent or less.

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Ofcom mobile coverage of London

Perhaps unsurprisingly, densely populated areas such as London have the best coverage for both 2G and 3G.

The image above shows that Londoners enjoy 98 percent of coverage from all operators by premises and 94 percent by geographical area. It also shows that on average, London premises use 555MB of data per month by uploading and downloading.

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Ofcom mobile coverage of Scottish Borders

The image above — which is UK 3G coverage by premises — shows that locations in the Scottish Borders use an average of 139MB per month. If measuring coverage by premises, only three percent in the regions are covered by all operators, while six percent receive no reliable 3G signal at all.

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Ofcom mobile coverage of Strabane, Northern Ireland

Despite the Scottish Borders's lacklustre coverage, it is not the worst performing area for 3G coverage in the UK.

In Strabane, Northern Ireland, data usage is just 79MB per premise per month on average, while nearly 34 percent of premises receive no reliable signal from any mobile operator. If measured by geographical area, 81 percent of the region has no 3G coverage at all.


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