4G mobile connection varies wildly across the UK

New data from Which? and OpenSignal has found that 4G mobile customers are facing a variety of access and download speeds around the country.

By comparing 20 of the biggest cities across the UK, the OpenSignal report found that Middlesbrough was the best city for 4G access with 83% availability, while Bournemouth was the worst at 68%. London came 16th in the table, above Nottingham, Cardiff, Southampton and Bournemouth. Glasgow and Edinburgh came 9th and 10th respectively.

The average overall 4G availability across the UK is 65%, meaning mobile users can only access 4G nearly two-thirds of the time.

In a previous report from OpenSignal in November 2016, it found that the UK had an average 58% 4G accessibility rate, ranking it then 54th in the world behind the likes of Estonia and Peru. Which? expects that the U.K.’s rank will rise when OpenSignal publishes its new global rankings later this quarter.

The report also looked at average 4G download speeds across the UK. Stoke-on-Trent was found to be the fastest city, with Brighton the slowest.

As part of its “Consumer Agenda for Government“, Which? is calling for the next Government to work with Ofcom and providers to ensure critical reforms are made to the mobile market that deliver better performance and service for customers.

This will ensure that mobile phone users across the country will not be limited in the activities they do on their phone such as using social media, sending e-mails or streaming TV services.

The OpenSignal data – using unique analysis of over 500m data readings from mobile phones taken from over 30,000 users – takes a background reading every minute from a typical mobile phone user as they navigate around the area they live, work or travel in on a daily basis.

Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, 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.”

Brendan Gill, CEO and co-founder of OpenSignal, said:

“The mobile data experience isn’t the same in every city for UK consumers. OpenSignal users found LTE signals more often in Middlesbrough than in Manchester and faster 4G connections in Stoke than in London.”

Notes to Editors

  1. Research: OpenSignal partnered with Which? to examine 4G mobile performance in the UK. For this particular report, 535,415,861 datapoints were collected from 30,793 users between Dec 1st 2016 – Feb 28th 2017
  2. The full findings of this report can be viewed HERE (the report will go live at midnight)
  3. A report published by OpenSignal in November 2016 found that the UK ranked 54th in the world for 4G mobile access. Read the full report HERE
  4. To find out the best and worst mobile providers for coverage and speed in your area, visit the Which? website by clicking HERE
  5. Methodology: OpenSignal data is collected from regular consumer smartphones and recorded under conditions of normal usage. As opposed to drive-test data, which simulates the typical user experience by using the same devices to measure network performance in a small number of locations, OpenSignal take  measurements from millions of smartphones owned by normal people who have downloaded the OpenSignal app. More information, visit > https://opensignal.com/methodology/
    4G availability: The OpenSignal app takes a background reading from the device multiple times per minute. This reading includes many fields, such as the network technology – 2G, 3G or 4G, – and they use this to calculate the proportion of time that a user has access to signal. They also measure the proportion of time a user doesn’t have access to any of these technologies.
    4G Speed: The download speed refers to the rate at which information such as pictures, music and video is transferred from the internet to your device. The upload speed, on the other hand, is that at which content is transferred from your device to the internet. Both speeds are measured in Mbps.
  6. Ofcom commitments to 4G coverage: In a recent Ofcom report, three in ten (28%) UK homes and offices couldn’t get a good indoor 4G signal from the four networks. The regulator has set a target that 98% of UK homes should be able to access a 4G signal by the end of 2017.
  7. OpenSignal contact: Johanna Basnakjohanna@opensignal.com
  8. Regional data for 4G speed/availability

Press Release