Consumer report criticises 'sieve'-like mobile coverage in the UK

A new report from UK consumer champion said mobile coverage in the country remains patchy, with subscribers in East Anglia and Northern Ireland the most likely to experience a loss of signal.

According to the report based on the experiences of 6,000 UK mobile users across the country, 56 per cent of users in East Anglia experience 'not-spots' -- where a mobile signal is non-existent -- at least once a week, while 28 per cent say they suffer from a lack of signal at least once a day.

Users in Northern Ireland are the most frequent sufferers, with 31 per cent experiencing a not-spot every day. The best coverage is found in the North West of England, with only 44 per cent experiencing a not-spot at least once a week and 17 per cent experiencing not-spots every day. The average for the UK is 48 per cent at least once a week and 21 per cent every day.

The report noted that mobile operators may promise coverage of more than 99 per cent, but that tends to refer only to population coverage rather than square mileage of the UK landmass.

Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms expert at, commented that anyone with a mobile phone could confirm that their own experience does not always tally with operator claims.

"While there are few great, gaping holes in the UK coverage map as a whole, there are countless pinprick locales where no signal exists and, as our report suggest, many of us disappear into them with alarming frequency. The UK is less solid signal and more 'signal sieve'," said Howdle.

Mobile not-spots are typically caused by the line of sight between user and mast being blocked by buildings or hills.

"That half of us encounter a not-spot once a week or more often demonstrates that the UK still has a long way to go before not-spots are a thing of the past. Just don't expect that to happen any time soon. There is more profit in 5G than there is in patching holes," said Howdle.

Nonetheless, the UK government has agreed a deal with the market's four mobile networks (O2, EE, Vodafone and Three) to guarantee mobile voice coverage to 90 per cent of the UK's landmass by the end of 2017.

For more:
- see the latest Ofcom coverage map

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