More than 4,500 miles of roads across England, Wales and Scotland have no 2G coverage, making it impossible for Brits to send a text or make a phone call.
Partial coverage, where signal is patchy, is a problem on almost 29,000 miles of roads, and a further 14,554 miles have no 3G signal, the RAC Foundation’s research revealed. This could prove to be a real problem for Brits, especially if they break down and need to text or call someone for help. The A roads without any coverage include: the A591 in Cumbria, A149 in East Anglia, A494 in north Wales and A93 from Perth.
Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation director, noted that drivers would not want to break down on these roads, as it would be nigh-on impossible to call for help.
“Even where there is partial network coverage it might not be from your network provider,” he added. Currently, only 999 calls can be made through a third party network provider – in fact, you don’t even need to have a SIM card in your phone.
Unsurprisingly, roads in rural areas have the least amount of mobile phone coverage. The Highlands came in first, with 452 miles of roads without signal, whilst Powys (437 miles) and Argyll and Bute (293 miles) placed second and third respectively.
Not having a mobile phone signal was recently revealed to be Brits’ biggest bugbear, but it’s a huge problem for businesses too, especially those in rural areas. SMS marketing messages are hugely successful at drawing in more business. However, consumers won’t actually be able to receive the message if they have no signal – they might not see that special offer until it’s too late.
Luckily, it’s not all bad news. Network providers were quick to react to the RAC research, stating that billions of pounds is invested into improving mobile coverage every year. A spokesperson for EE claimed that coverage in the UK “has never been better”.
“Ofcom’s checker shows EE already has the most coverage, and all operators have agreed to invest £5 billion to increase coverage further,” they said.
This is no doubt good news for those businesses who rely on text messages to keep in contact with their customers. With such a large amount of money being invested, it is only a matter of time until these more rural parts of the UK have adequate coverage.
A spokesperson for Vodafone also noted that further support is required if mobile phone coverage is to grow. Landlords must allow operators to construct masts on their land, planning laws need to be updated, and the fixed fibre network should be extended to rural areas, so that masts can be linked.
It’s clear that it’s not just network operators’ responsibility to boost signals – without the support that they need they can only do so much. If they don’t get the support, both consumers and rural businesses will pay the price.