4G tests indicate unreliable urban coverage

4G tests indicate unreliable urban coverage

The first major test of the new 4G network rolled out in Manchester and ten other cities around the UK has found that coverage is not as good as was expected.

Data collected by RootMetrics and revealed to the BBC indicated that just 40.2 per cent of its test locations in Manchester city centre, which is supposed to be fully connected to the new network, had access to 4G.

RootMetrics' chief executive Bill Moore said: "Although EE's 4G service is much faster than any network currently available in the UK, our testing shows that 4G connections are not consistent even within a nominated area.

"Customers need to be aware of this as there will be an expectation of blistering fast mobile internet speeds whenever they use their phones," Mr Moore added.

4G users who are able to access the service in Manchester were getting speeds averaging 17Mbps, according to the survey.

The test also indicated that outside the city centre itself, there was no 4G coverage at all, while in the areas that 4G was provided, users could access much faster speeds indoors.

Rivals of Everything Everywhere, which launched its 4G network last month, had questioned if the 1800MHz spectrum would provide good indoor coverage, however results suggest that it is not significantly worse, with 93 per cent of tests conducted indoors successful, compared with 97 per cent of outdoor tests.

"You would never get the indoor speeds we have seen without 4G. The figures are far in excess of what 3G is capable of on average," Mr Moore told the news provider.

Vodafone and O2 may be able to offer their own 4G services as early as May or June next year, after Ofcom announced official dates for the highly-anticipated spectrum auction.

The communications watchdog explained that firms interested in bidding for the 4G mobile spectrum must have their applications completed and submitted by December 11th, ahead of an auction in January, before licences are handed out in February and March.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards recently said the creation of the timetable "marks an important shift from preparation to the delivery of the auction".