Wednesday, July 08, 2009

OFCOM releases UK 3G coverage map

OFCOM has today released its first UK maps of 3G mobile network coverage, and it makes interesting reading.

The maps come with some caveats. The benchmark they've used is already pretty low, that is to say the signal strength needed to count as 'coverage' was just 10% of maximum transmit power and this had to be exceeded for 50% of the locations for 50% of the time. Oh, and it only measures outdoor coverage, not indoor where signal strength degrades even further. So it's a very conservative map, designed to give the operators the best chance of succeeding you might say.

And who comes out looking best? Well, H3G is the clear winner when it comes to nationwide coverage (although if you're Welsh, Scottish or from Norfolk you can still forget it). Orange comes a credible second. Quite frankly though, for all the naming and shaming, O2 is still pathetic. You can maybe drive from London to Liverpool and have 3G the whole way, but you'd have to pick your route damn carefully. The one that surprised me though was Vodafone. I expected better (and to use the same 'test' as for O2 as above, you can't even do London-Liverpool and stay within Voda 3G coverage because of a 'Not-Spot' that looks to be around the Northampton area!).

But all is not lost, because while the nationwide 3G coverage is still poor for many operators, the coastal coverage is excellent! That's right, if you want to sail from Margate to Falmouth, 8 out of 10 sailors say their yachts prefer Vodafone!

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