Government infrastructure watchdog, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), has heavily criticised Britain’s 4G coverage. It says that users are barely able to connect to fast mobile internet half the time, and it’s holding the country back.
The NIC's produced an extensive report, which looks at the state of mobile infrastructure in the UK. It says that the country has 'digital deserts' - places that lack sorely needed 4G coverage. For example, roads, city centres and commuter train routes are all areas that areas that should have 4G, yet many of them still do not.
The report also found that other countries, including the US and Japan have data volumes four to five times higher than here in Blighty. Even smaller countries like Peru and Albania are beating us on 4G coverage.
Chair of the NIC, Andrew Adonis, said: "Britain is 54th in the world for 4G coverage, and the typical user can only access 4G barely half the time. 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."
"That isn't just frustrating, it is increasingly holding British business back as more and more of our economy requires a connected workforce."
The report details a number of recommendations that the NIC believe can help get mobile broadband in Britain up to speed. It suggests that there should be a dedicated cabinet minister in charge of digital infrastructure in the UK, and that the government and regulators should work together to ensure that a universal service obligation is in place by 2025.
It places a lot of hopes on the next generation of mobile internet - 5G, and wants to ensure it's available across all major transport routers. Adonis said:
"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. But the UK is currently languishing in the digital slow lane.
"5G offers us a chance to start again and get ahead. If government acts now we can ensure our major transport networks and urban centres are 5G ready in time to give British industry every chance to lead the world in exploiting its applications.
"But none of this will matter unless we bring our mobile network up to speed."
Ian Langley, vice president of wireless technology provider Cobham Wireless, largely agrees: "With our major cities, roads and large parts of rural Britain void of reliable connectivity, it is clear that something must be done to fix the various 'not spots' across the country.
He added: "To solve this problem requires collaboration between legislators, operators and facilities managers to ensure a coherent strategy is put in place to solve the not spot issue once and for all."
Source: The Guardian