Ofcom releases not-spot report

The regulator has warned of the implications of not getting the right mobile coverage for all.

UK notspots

Whilst mobile network coverage in the UK stands tall, there are still a significant number of areas with low connectivity.

This was the conclusion of a new report by Ofcom, which has admitted whatever regulations it imposes, some areas will still remain without coverage.

"We are required to secure the availability throughout the UK of a wide range of electronic communications services and the optimal use of spectrum," said the report.

"However, even in using our regulatory powers, it is still likely that there could be areas left without mobile coverage (that is, it is unlikely there will be 100 per cent geographic coverage)."

2G coverage across the UK was very high, with 97 per cent of the population and 91 per cent of land mass having access.

This dropped dramatically for 3G coverage though, with just 87 per cent of the population and 76 per cent of land mass being covered.

"We also know 2G and 3G coverage levels are lower in Scotland,

Wales and Northern Ireland compared to English regions," added the report, naming the lowest 3G coverage region as Northern Ireland with only 40 per cent coverage.

Whilst many have cited planning and technical issues for holding back roll out, Ofcom didn't believe this was an issue for fixed locations.

The regulator did, however, claim it was a problem for coverage on the move, such as on trains.

"Some mobile operators are looking to install repeaters' on newer trains to help carry mobile signals into train carriages, but progress is slow," the report said.

Implications for business

In the report, Ofcom made clear what implications it felt a lack of coverage could have on various sectors of society.

When it came to businesses, the report said: "Concerns [for companies] include loss of workforce efficiency [and] a growing problem given the innovations in mobile data services and applications."

"Rural businesses expressed significant concerns about local coverage issues. These were felt in terms of both conducting day-to-day business activities and ensuring the safety of staff working in isolated jobs such as farming."

For individuals the report claimed the lack of being able to make or change plans on the move was a big concern and, for society as a whole, there was unease about citizens being unable to contact emergency services.

Ofcom said it would continue to research into the area of mobile connectivity, help to improve consumer information and work with partners to increase coverage on rail networks. It also pledged to move the freeing up of spectrum forward and to continue to engage with the Government over not-spot issues.

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