Ofcom have just launched digital communications coverage maps, including outdoor mobile coverage and mobile broadband availability, using data supplied by communications providers. The maps are part of Ofcom’s first report on the UK’s communications infrastructure which it is now required to submit to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport every three years. Ofcom’s report also refers to the coverage and capacity of the UK’s landline network, digital radio and TV.
Each of the 200 areas of the UK has been ranked according to a score given for coverage and colour coded with green ranking highest and red lowest.
Ofcom’s data shows considerably better household coverage compared with geographic coverage. This is because mobile providers tend to prioritise investment in network infrastructure where the maximum number of consumers and businesses can be served.
The maps show that 97% of premises and 66% of the UK landmass can receive a 2G signal outdoors from all four 2G networks. This means that approximately 900,000 UK premises do not have a choice of all four 2G mobile networks.
For 3G, 73% of premises and 13% of the UK’s landmass can receive a signal outdoors from all five 3G networks, with lower coverage in less densely populated areas. This means that approximately 7.7million UK premises do not have a choice of all five 3G mobile networks. The areas of lowest 3G geographic coverage are in the highlands of Scotland and mid-Wales which are both sparsely populated with hilly terrain.
The report also shows significant demand for broadband data from UK consumers. Residential fixed broadband customers are using on average 17 Gigabytes of data per month. This is the equivalent to downloading more than 11 films per month, streaming 12 hours of BBC iPlayer HD video or more than 12 days of streaming audio content. This compares with mobile broadband demand which is on average 0.24 Gigabytes per month per connection.
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