A third of Brits with smartphones can't get 4G internet

Katie Morley
Middlesbrough is the best city for 4G access with 83pc availability, it said, while Bournemouth is the worst at just 68pc, the report reveals   - © juan moyano / Alamy Stock Photo

One third of Britons cannot access high speed 4G mobile internet on their smartphones at any given time, a Which? study has found.

The consumer watchdog found mobile 4G connection "varies wildly" across the UK, with the UK lagging behind Estonia and Peru for overall availability.

Middlesbrough is the best city for 4G access with 83pc availability, it said, while Bournemouth is the worst at just 68pc, the report reveals today.

The average overall 4G availability across the UK is 65pc, meaning mobile users can only access 4G around two-thirds of the time.

4G internet was introduced to replace 3G, which became unable to handle increased data consumption the rapid growth of data consumption and web browsing via smartphones.

Watching videos on a smartphone without 4G internet can be frustrating  Credit: Lauren Hurley

Where 4G is not available, smartphones revert back to 3G and will experience a far slower connection, making tasks like reading emails and downloading videos more difficult.

The study, co-authored by independent mobile coverage analyst OpenSignal, compared 20 of the biggest cities across the UK and placed London at 16th, above Nottingham, Cardiff, Southampton and Bournemouth.

Glasgow and Edinburgh came 9th and 10th respectively.

The report also looked at average 4G download speeds across the UK, finding Stoke-on-Trent to be the fastest city and Brighton the slowest.

Which? is calling on the next government to work with Ofcom and mobile providers to ensure that "critical" reforms are made to the market that deliver better performance and service for customers.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: "These latest findings underline the need for Ofcom to keep the pressure on mobile operators, so that every part of the country gets a decent service on their mobile phone.

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"Our mobile phone is central to how we live our lives and that is why it is so frustrating when we can't access emails or browse the internet on the go."

OpenSignal chief executive Brendan Gill added: "The mobile data experience isn't the same in every city for UK consumers.

"OpenSignal users found 4G signals more often in Middlesbrough than in Manchester and faster 4G connections in Stoke than in London."

The OpenSignal study analysed more than 500 million data readings from mobile phones taken from more than 30,000 users between December 1 and February 28.

 

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