UK falling behind in 4G coverage rankings

UK falling behind in 4G coverage rankings

Mobile users in the UK are being held back by the country's faltering 4G coverage, new figures have suggested.

A recent report from OpenSignal found that only 53 per cent of UK networks currently offer a consistent LTE signal, leaving the country 55th in the world rankings.

The numbers show that the UK is subsequently relying heavily on its 3G infrastructure, a situation replicated across most of Europe.

Germany (56 per cent), Italy (57 per cent) and France (51 per cent) fared just as disappointingly, with researchers rating their ability to provide a stable LTE network as being "little better than a coin flip".

The top of the coverage rankings saw South Korea emerge ahead of the competition with 97 per cent, followed by Japan (90 per cent), Hong Kong (86 per cent) and Kuwait (85 per cent).

The Netherlands was the only European nation to break into the top five, earning a figure of 84 per cent.

At the other end of the listings, Sri Lanka emerged as the country with the worst LTE coverage of 39 per cent, with Costa Rica and Ecuador on 41 per cent.  

Speed a bright spot in the UK

Despite the disappointing level of 4G coverage across the UK, the country still recorded an impressive speed of 15 Mbps, leaving it 29th in the world.

The results indicate an increase on the figures recorded for last year, which saw the UK record 4G speeds of 13 Mbps to leave it ranked 37th.

This year's number was also faster than the US, which in 55th place had speeds of just 6 Mbps.  

Singapore was found to have the fastest 4G network, boasting speeds of 37 Mbps, while New Zealand (29Mbps) and Hungary (28Mbps) were listed as the top three fastest networks in the report.

Incredibly, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia and Iran at the bottom of the scoreboard only managed  3 Mbps, which OpenSignal suggests is a sign there is plenty of work left to be done, particularly in Europe.

It said: "Though it’s been six years since the first LTE network reared its head, the technology’s momentum continues to surprise us.

"Operators worldwide are pushing the upper boundaries of LTE speed, and coverage continues to expand to the point that in several countries 4G networks are now as ubiquitous as the 3G networks that preceded them.

"That progress, however, is proceeding at different rates in different parts of the world."

An interesting trend to be noted by the researchers was the fact that even pioneers of 4G connectivity, such as the US, Japan and Sweden, have "clearly lost their edge in speed".

According to researchers, this slowdown is not necessarily due to investment in LTE infrastructure being halted, but a lack of spectrum, technological innovation or the over-subscription of networks.

The global average for LTE download speed is currently now 13.5 Mbps, an increase of nearly a megabit from the amount recorded from the previous report.