Ofcom Mobile Sector Assessment Interactive Executive Summary

« Paragraph 1.11 | Read the full summary | Paragraph 1.13 »

1.12

 Coverage of mobile networks is generally good, although there are still areas of the UK which are not served by some or all of the operators. People living in those areas, and businesses seeking to serve them, may be disadvantaged by lack of access to mobile voice and data services. For 3G network coverage there is still a noticeable difference between city and countryside, with some parts of (each of) Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and some regions of England, having poorer coverage than the UK average.

Comments

john loader on 29 August 2008 at 9:33am

Ofcom should ensure as close to 100% geographic coverage through insisting the industry funds access on a shared basis in the more remote areas - e.g. Yorkshire Dales are poorly served by signals yet increasingly walkers rely on mobiles for emergency assistance

Alistair C on 29 August 2008 at 10:06am

The coverage for 3G services in the countryside is important. Typically countryside areas have the lowest speed fixed line broadband and 3G offers a realistic alternative but coverage is still poor. I live in a small village and receive low speed fixed line broadband and no 3G reception. As access to higher speed connections becomes increasingly important someone (Ofcom ?) needs to keep the operators focused on a fair level of provision for those who are not in urban areas.

Rhys parry on 30 August 2008 at 10:03am

In rural areas such as mine (West Wales) could it not be possible to allow "roaming". In many rural parts one carrier is stronger than another so allowing the phone to switch carriers would be helpful.

Rural areas are hit by a double whammy. Invaraibly remote villages are on dial-up and can't get 3G. So broadband acces to them is almost impossible. Perhaps it is time to get tough and force the carriers in providing high speed services to the countryside as well.

Charles Dixon-Spain on 31 August 2008 at 9:46am

Consistent 3G coverage across the UK, most particularly in remote rural areas, is imperative given the cost of getting adequate connection speeds on presently available broadband services. In Scotland we are particularly concerned that in 10 years time the connective differential between rural and urban areas will mean we will see wholesale desertion of our communities as it becomes economically unviable to live with slow broadband connections.

Glyn Sloman on 31 August 2008 at 1:02pm

As you point out in para 1.6, mobile phones have become a critical and vital element for business, and yet there are still massive areas which are not covered - for example, North Norfolk is especially badly covered by mobile operators, yet is an increasingly popular area for individuals and business.

Phil Graham on 31 August 2008 at 9:15pm

If there is poor coverage when a contract is bought then the customer should have the option to cancel without penalty.

Chris Hoare on 1 September 2008 at 9:04am

I would like to see better information about areas where coverage is poor. I get particularly annoyed by intermittent coverage when I am cut of without having moved. The idea of allowing roaming and network sharing in rural areas is certainly worth exploring.

Morten on 1 September 2008 at 1:59pm

near 100% coverage should have been a condition of the licences. Surely a universal service obligation should be looked at as a possible imposition upon the industry, in the same way BT has a fixed line USO, and as previous commentators have argued, this could be achieved in cooperation with the other network operators.

A Hayes on 2 September 2008 at 8:51am

Better (more accurate/detailed) info on coverage before deciding on a provider would be welcome. In my experience, there are big differences in coverage (and quality of coverage) between e.g. Orange, O2 and Vodaphone even in built up areas.

The idea of 'roaming' suggested sounds attractive but I can't see it being a realistic option for so long as coverage is a differentiator in a competitive market. If it was, I guess the consumer would pick up the tab for services routed across other networks, much as we pay higher costs for international roaming now. Unless those costs were minimal, I can't see that being attractive to many.

I take the point about provision for rural areas - alongside improvements there I would like to see more done for those unable to take advantage of the provision that already exists (due to cost) who are also being left further and further behind. They may be within coverage but be unable to use the services because of the relatively high costs.

Perhaps there is a need to look at investment in services delivered by cable and satellite TV. Current internet provision through these existing services is quite slow (slower than the so-called mobile broadband) and not a particularly viable alternative at present. I don't know how good rural coverage of these kinds of services is though.

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On this experimental site we encourage you to leave informal comments alongside the Executive Summary of Ofcom's Mobile Sector Assessment consultation, published on 28 August 2008.

Alternatively, you can download the full consultation document, and/or respond formally to the consultation (closing date 6 November 2008). You can also follow the debate over the next few months on the team's blog, Mobile citizens, mobile consumers.