Ofcom has published a series of maps ranking 200 regions for mobile coverage and broadband availability.
The maps are part of Ofcom’s first report on the UK’s communications infrastructure ,which it is now required to submit to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport every three years.
For mobile networks, the data show that over 97% of premises should have a strong enough mobile signal from all four 2G network operators to make a call when outside (73% for the five 3G networks).
However, while coverage of premises is high, overall geographic coverage by all four 2G operators is 66% (just 13% for 3G). Coverage in rural areas tends to be worse than in urban areas.
Ofcom said that the slow progress looks to be easing as operators begin to deploy more infrastructure per capita to serve rural users and tackle the challenges of extending network coverage.
The watchdog added: ‘We are undertaking further research to establish the level of coverage on roads given the importance of coverage on the move to both consumers and citizens. We recognise that there may be economic challenges of deploying networks in some rural areas, and we are exploring whether there is more Ofcom can do to help industry address the remaining mobile “not-spots”.’
In another map, Ofcom revealed that mobile broadband data volumes are now significant, at an average of 240MB per month for each 3G connection.
However, the data suggests that consumers continue to rely on fixed networks for the bulk of their data consumption and a number of operators are turning to fixed networks to off-load traffic from mobile devices on to fixed networks using Wi-Fi and similar technologies.
Mobile broadband demand was found to be on average 0.24 Gigabytes per month per connection, meaning that approximately 7.7 million UK premises do not have a choice of all five 3G mobile networks.
The areas of lowest 3G geographic coverage are in the highlands of Scotland and mid-Wales, which are both sparsely populated with hilly terrain.
Ofcom said it is currently working closely with the Government to consider how the £150m that it has allocated to help address mobile not-spots, can deliver the greatest benefits for UK consumers.
‘Working to address mobile not-spots is one of Ofcom’s priorities, as set out in its 2011/12 annual plan,’ the regulator concluded.