Only half of UK consumers can access LTE, report finds

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The UK might be Europe's biggest LTE market, but new research has found consumers can only access it 53 percent of the time on average across the country's four mobile networks.

Consumer body Which? commissioned OpenSignal to do a State of Mobile Networks report into the UK market. It found EE customers have the best coverage in the country, with them able to access an LTE signal 60.6 percent of the time. The operator has 14 million LTE customers.

Vodafone was second, with customers able to access a 4G signal 57 percent of the time. O2 was third (56 percent) and Three was last (39.8 percent).

Despite Three's poor coverage score, it offered download speeds of 18.7MBps on average, up from 12MBps a year ago. EE was second with 17.8MBps, followed by O2 (12.1MBps) and Vodafone (11.8MBps).

Which? said the UK trails behind 39 countries where consumers can access LTE 60 percent of the time. UK regulator Ofcom has set a target that 98 percent of home should be able to access LTE by the end of next year.

Richard Lloyd, Which? Executive Director, said: “Almost everyone now uses a mobile phone service and it’s not good enough that the UK is lagging behind so many countries with our 4G network coverage. Increasing 4G access should be a priority for mobile providers and Ofcom must continue to push them to make this a reality.”

OpenSignal, CEO Brendan Gill, added: “While it’s clear the UK is making progress in building out powerful 4G networks, it’s obvious there is still some work to do to extend coverage further.”