Ofcom report shows just 38% of Scotland has good data coverage from all four networks
Scotland still suffers from the poorest 4G mobile coverage in the UK by a substantial margin, according to a new report by Ofcom.
The annual Connected Nations report shows that mobile coverage continues to increase across the UK, with almost all homes and offices able to get a good indoor 4G signal from at least one operator, while 77% are covered by all four networks – EE, Three, Vodafone, and O2 – up from 65% a year earlier.
But, warning that too many rural areas are left with patchy or unreliable mobile reception, the watchdog found that only 41% of rural premises have complete 4G coverage. Meanwhile, in some remote parts of the UK there is no coverage at all.
It found that 38% of Scotland’s geographic area can get good 4G services from all operators, in comparison to 57% in Wales, 79% in Northern Ireland, and 82% of England.
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Philip Marnick, Ofcom’s spectrum group director, said: “Mobile coverage has improved across the UK this year, but too many people and businesses are still struggling for a signal. We’re particularly concerned about mobile reception in rural areas. As we release new airwaves for mobile, we’re planning rules that would extend good mobile coverage to where it’s needed. That will help ensure that rural communities have the kind of mobile coverage that people expect in towns and cities, reducing the digital divide.”
Ofcom highlighted that 92% of Scottish premises can now get a superfast connection, in comparison to 87% in 2017. In comparison, 94% of premises in England can now get a broadband superfast connection, up two percentage points on 2017. Northern Irish coverage is at 89%, while Wales is on 93%.
Andrew McRae, the Scotland policy chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Consumers and businesses in Scotland are paying as much for their mobile phones as counterparts elsewhere in the UK for a service, which this report illustrates, is far worse. While it is good to see Ofcom note that this is unsatisfactory, we need to see action from them, the UK Government and mobile operators to address this long-standing problem.
“On the other hand, this publication also underlines that Scotland is making good progress on superfast broadband provision, though we still lag both England and Wales. We strongly support the Scottish Government’s ambition on this front – though we would underline that expectations amongst communities and firms are very high and they must deliver.
“From next April, over one hundred thousand Scottish businesses will have to update their tax keep records digitally, as part of the Making Tax Digital programme. This change will bring problems regarding Scottish digital connectivity to the fore.”