A new report from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has slammed the state of the UK’s 4G coverage, sticking our nation in 54th place in a grand table of the world’s 4G-iest countries.
As well as triggering Joe Public’s superiority complex -- “Oh my God, even Peru and Albania are ahead of us, yuk” -- it’s got people talking about and longing for 5G, despite the vast majority of people not having a clue what it is.
“Britain is 54th in the world for 4G coverage, and the typical user can only access 4G barely half the time,” said Andrew Adonis, chair of the commission. “Our 4G network is worse than Romania and Albania, Panama and Peru. Our roads and railways can feel like digital deserts and even our city centres are plagued by not spots where connectivity is impossible.”
He’s called for 4G coverage in towns and cities, and on key rail routes and motorways to be prioritised, and wants the government to learn from past mistakes to ensure that the planned 2020 rollout of 5G spectrum isn’t so messy.
Adonis has also recommended that Ofcom works with ministers to establish a set of standards known as a ‘universal service obligation’ by 2025.
“5G is the future -- ultra-fast and ultra-reliable, it has the potential to change our lives and our economy in ways we cannot even imagine today,” he added. “But the UK is currently languishing in the digital slow lane. 5G offers us a chance to start again and get ahead.
“But none of this will matter unless we bring our mobile network up to speed. The existing system does not provide the level of coverage we will need in our connected future. We need a new universal service obligation which ensures that the mobile essentials -- like text, talk and data -- are available to us wherever we need them.”
Three, meanwhile, got in touch, saying, “One of the main causes of the UK’s poor 4G coverage has been the historic imbalance in mobile airwaves. Ofcom’s proposed spectrum auction rules will only make the situation worse by allowing that imbalance to continue beyond the next auction. We’ll face the same issues with the rollout of 5G with consumers and businesses suffering as a result.” [Guardian]