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Third of UK suffers from mobile phone coverage problems

By Simon Crompton     Sep 2, 2014 in Technology
According to a report by Ofcom, the regulator of Britain’s mobile phone industry, at least 20 percent of the country faces regular problems with mobile phone coverage.
A fifth of the population of the UK suffer from blocked or dropped calls at least once a week. This number is significantly higher in rural areas of the nation, where the network is sparser.
Prime Minister David Cameron recently ordered improvements in the quality of Britain's mobile phone coverage. Traditionally, government involvement in telecommunications hasn’t always been smooth, but these findings will surely bolster his case for the necessity of the order.
As of yet, however, the administration has no established plan. “The government is working through various options and is not in a position to announce anything,” said one Westminster official.
The coalition’s relative caution in proceeding comes as no surprise, given the extensive criticism of BDUK, its program to extend fixed line broadband service to rural areas.
Both Ofcom and providers have a vested interest in improving geographical coverage, fuelling the demand for, It iis already a priority of the former. Mobile providers EE, Vodafone, O2, and Three have all “agreed to work with Ofcom to develop a common methodology for measuring the rates of calls successfully completed on their networks.”
Such a methodology would enable comprehensive comparisons and significantly more precise data analysis than has so far been possible with estimates of such figures. With luck, this would give the government some quantitative ammunition against harsh criticism of its £250 million plan to extend coverage.
Such criticisms are not without base, however. Ofcom reports that most of the UK is happy with the service it receives. Over half of people report having few to no problems with their service, with most complaints being concentrated in rural areas.
The British economy is marred by striking inequality, and continues to grapple with the effects of Europe’s economic downturn. Equalizing the quality of mobile phone service is certainly a worthy cause, but in such an economic climate, it will be difficult for the coalition to convince its detractors that it is a priority.
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