UK Mobile Coverage

telecoms.pngUK mobile coverage is in the news today with the Government and network operators claiming it’s a win for consumers. However, as the article says, the money is "unlikely to be any more than the operators were going to spend anyway in that time period".

From a consumer angle, I have suffered from the network operators trying to get away with a minimal rather than comprehensive coverage. I don’t even live in a rural area or "not spot" as they call it. I live in an semi-urban area close to London.

The main problem at the moment is that operators are swapping out or moving 3G masts for 4G masts. At one time, my home, where I mainly work and hence use mobile data for testing apps, was well covered by T-Mobile. 18 months ago, the low signal became unusable. After a 45 mins talk with 4 people at EE (T-Mobile and Orange are now EE), I got through to someone technical who told me the 3G mast had been reconfigured for 4G and even the new projected 4G coverage didn’t look that good at my location. I obtained/purchased SIMs from all the non-MVNO UK network operators and did a survey. Vodafone came out best so I moved all my test SIMs.

18 months later, I am back where I was. The Vodafone signal is poorer, I suspect due to 4G ‘improvements’. The difference this time is that 4G SIMs are not extortionately priced any more and the 4G signal is actually excellent. The cynical side of me wonders if poorer 3G signals are being used to gradually move people to 4G.

Back to the article and it says the money will "provide reliable signal for voice over 2G, 3G or 4G, all by 2017". On all of these? I don’t think so. Also, what about data?