Scotland business

Scotland 'lagging' on mobile 4G access

Man holding two new iPhones Image copyright Associated Press

Scotland is lagging behind much of the UK on mobile access to a 4G signal, according to a new report.

Mobile coverage measurement firm OpenSignal found smartphone users north of the border could only access 4G 50.4% of the time on average.

This placed it eighth out of 12 areas of the UK reviewed in its State of Mobile Networks.

London topped the table, with mobile users there able to access a 4G signal 69.7% of the time.

Scotland also sat eighth in the table for 4G download speeds, with average speeds of 21.1Mbps.

Northern Ireland was the best performing area in that category, with speeds of 23.3Mbps.

What is 4G?

4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone technology and follows on from 2G and 3G.

2G technology was suitable for making calls and sending text messages while 3G makes it possible to access the internet more effectively through your mobile phone.

4G services are designed to make it much quicker to surf the web on mobile, tablets and laptops and access services which demand more capacity such as video streaming, mapping and social networking sites.

Source: Ofcom

The report, produced in association with consumer group Which?, found mobile providers EE, O2 and Vodafone all provided similar connection levels to their network in Scotland - about 55%.

But Three customers north of the border could only access 4G on average 33.5% of the time, according to OpenSignal.

However, Three came second behind EE in 4G speed tests, with an average LTE (Long Term Evolution) speed of 24.5 Mbps. O2 and Vodafone were below 20 Mbps.

Three showed the fastest 3G download speed, with a measured average of 6.1 Mbps on its HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) networks.

EE, however, came top in the category with the fastest aggregate speed over operators' 3G and 4G networks.

A spokesman for Three said: "We are continuing to roll out our 4G SuperVoice service in Scotland which will improve voice and data coverage for Scottish consumers."

Image caption Source: OpenSignal/Which?

Alex Neil, from Which?, said: "This latest research confirms that Scotland is lagging behind London when it comes to getting 4G signal.

"It's clear mobile providers must do much more to improve their networks if they are to provide greater access to their customers."

The Scottish government agreed a plan with network providers in June to improve mobile coverage across Scotland and maximise investment in 4G technology.

At the time, Connectivity Secretary Fergus Ewing said: "We have set out an ambition for the availability of world class digital connectivity across the country, and we recognise that improved mobile connectivity is an integral part of delivering that ambition."

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