Thousand of miles of British roads 'have no mobile phone coverage'

Broken down car Image copyright Thinkstock

More than 4,500 miles of British roads have no mobile phone coverage, analysis by a motoring charity has suggested.

About 2% of all roads in England, Scotland and Wales have no 2G coverage, the minimum required to make a call or send a text, said the RAC Foundation.

Almost 29,000 miles have only partial coverage, while 14,554 miles of road have no 3G coverage, it added.

Phone operators said billions of pounds a year were being invested in coverage - which "has never been better".

Stretches of road without coverage include the A149 in East Anglia, the A591 in Cumbria, the A93 from Perth, and the A494 in north Wales.

Northern Ireland's roads were not included in the study.

The RAC Foundation said its research was based on analysis of data published by communications regulator Ofcom.

Areas with least coverage

Image copyright Reuters
  • Highlands - 452 miles
  • Powys - 437 miles
  • Argyll and Bute - 293 miles
  • Cumbria - 252 miles
  • Devon - 243 miles
  • Dumfries and Galloway - 237 miles
  • North Yorkshire - 231 miles
  • Scottish Borders - 226 miles
  • Gwynedd - 172 miles
  • Ceredigion - 156 miles

Source: RAC Foundation

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: "There are thousands of miles of road along which you would not want to break down.

"Even where there is partial network coverage it might not be from your network provider."

Rural areas

However, mobile phone operators said billions of pounds a year were being invested in boosting phone coverage in rural areas.

A Vodafone spokesperson said it was investing "around £1bn per year to deliver a strong signal for customers".

"In addition to our largest ever investment programme, we require the support of consenting landlords, updated planning laws, and for the fixed fibre network - needed to link masts - to be extended to rural areas," a spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for EE said mobile phone coverage in the UK "has never been better than it is now".

"Ofcom's checker shows EE already has the most coverage, and all operators have agreed to invest £5bn to increase coverage further."

Under an industry agreement, customers can make 999 calls wherever there is network available - even if it is not via their own provider.

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