Mobile data may be your lifeline for carrying out everyday tasks, or it maybe it’s something you only use on the rare occasion. Trouble is that data signal coverage across the UK is patchy. So, how important is mobile data access to you?
When discussing the decommissioning of public pay phones recently, a number of Which? Conversation community members explained how mobile connectivity is still a major problem for them. We even heard stories of some people having to carry two mobile phones around on different networks to ensure they always have signal.
But increasingly, people aren’t using mobiles for only phone calls and texts, people now rely on their mobiles as personal computers.
In fact, he internet is accessed more on mobile devices than on laptops and PCs – and this makes 3G and 4G signal an ever-increasing ‘must have’ for mobile phone users. The reality is we expect to be completely connected with the ability to surf the web, as much as make a call.
However, the latest research from Which? and Opensignal found that, just like phone signal, people across the UK are struggling to access mobile data.
In fact, Wales is the worst region for mobile 4G signal accessibility in the UK, where users could only access 4G 35.4% of the time. In Scotland, mobile users were able to access a 4G signal 50.4% of the time.
Interestingly however, London has the slowest 4G connection with a speed of 18.8Mbps, compared to 23Mbps in Northern Ireland (even though you can only get a signal there 58.5% of the time!).
The research also concluded that EE was the company with the most reliable 4G connection (64.1% of the time), and it was also the fastest, with a whopping 28Mbps download speed.
Regional data for 4G speed/availability
|Region||Average 4G availability||Average 4G Speed|
|Yorkshire & Humberside||61.3%||22.8Mbps|
|East of England||48.9%||22.3Mbps|
Networks 4G Speed/availability in the UK
|Networks||Average 4G speed||Average 4G availability|
Update: 3 May 2017
Just months after the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) ranked the UK as being 54th in the world for 4G mobile signal coverage, new data produced by OpenSignal for Which? has mapped the best cities for 4G signal.
Of the 20 cities mapped/researched, Middlesbrough was the best city for 4G access with a signal available 82.7% of the time, whereas Bournemouth came bottom with access 67.5% of the time.
The average overall 4G availability across the UK is 65%, meaning mobile users who are dependent on a 4G service have access for only two-thirds of the time.
This study also identified differences in download speed across UK cities and found that Stoke-on-Trent was the city with the fastest speeds, whereas Brighton has the slowest.
Our Managing Director of Home Products and Services, Alex Neill, 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.’
Over to you
So, we want to know, how important is data connectivity to you? Do you consider data access when you’re buying a mobile phone? And how do you use mobile data?