UK Mobile Notspots Report - August 2011

Uk notspots overview

With over 800k downloads, OpenSignalMaps is the largest mobile signal crowdsourcing project in the world. Thanks to an army of app users and signal enthusiasts we are mapping signal strength, cell phone towers and wifi points in 140 countries.

The data for this report was contributed by over thirty thousand UK-based users of OpenSignalMaps for Android, who contributed over 10 million data points for this study. Our analysis reveals staggering differences between the service quality of different UK mobile phone carriers. According to our data, users have access to 3G networks only 58.3% of the time. Breaking down this statistic, we found that Orange had the poorest coverage (*) with 51% 3G availability, while T-Mobile had the greatest coverage with 71% availability. Vodafone and O2 both averaged about 54% 3G connectivity. In total, we identified over 22,120 3G "Notspots" - areas where multiple users reported having no 3G access on a particular network.

Our data also includes thousands of download and upload speed tests. We found that Vodafone and O2 came out top on this benchmark, averaging almost double the average connection speed compared with T-Mobile and Orange. For comparison, an average 3MB MP3 file would take approximately 10 seconds to download and 36 seconds to upload via Vodafone's network, which came top of our tests, versus 21 seconds to download and 94 seconds to upload on Orange, which fared the worst. Hutchinson's 3 network was only marginally slower than Vodafone and O2, with download speeds of 1.8 Mbps and upload speeds of 0.4 Mbps.

Quick data stats

Based on data collected from 31,696 UK users of OpenSignalMaps for Android

Total number of signal readings: 10,176,297

Total number of 3G Notspots in UK: 21,201

Average 3G availability: 58.3%

Average 3G download speed: 1.65 Mbps

Average 3G upload speed: 0.40 Mbps

Average latency (ping): 282 ms

Region with worst 3G coverage: North Wales

3G Notspot Map

This map shows 3G "notspots" in the UK - areas with no 3G coverage - based on data uploaded by OpenSignalMaps for Android users. Use the dropdown menu in the top right of the map to filter the data by network.

3G Reliability by County

This map shows the accessibility of 3G networks in the UK by county. Click on a county to see how often users in each county were unable to access 3G signals and to compare different networks.

3G Speedtest Data

This table shows the average download and upload speeds of the different networks around the UK. The ping times listed are a measure of latency, i.e. how long it takes for the phone to make a connection. Lower pings indicate a faster connection.

Network Ping Time / ms Download Speed / Mbps Upload Speed / Mbps
Vodafone 191 2.20 0.63
O2 390 2.02 0.43
3 280 1.85 0.40
T-Mobile 248 1.14 0.31
Orange 298 1.03 0.24

3G Signal Availability

This table on the left shows the percentage of time that users had 3G connectivity. Huchinson's 3 network is not included in this table as they only operate 3G towers.

Network Percentage of time users spent with 3G signal (%)
Vodafone 53.5
O2 54.4
T-Mobile 70.9
Orange 51.6

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does this data come from?

Data is collected from 31,696 users who have downloaded OpenSignalMaps for Android and opted into sharing the data generated by the app, which is then anonymized and sent to our servers. The data was collected over a period of 9 months between December 2010 and August 2011.

What is a "Notspot"?

A Notspot is an area with very low or no 3G coverage. For the purposes of this study, we defined this as an area where more than one user reported having very weak or no 3G signal.

How did you measure the percentage of time users have access to 3G?

OpenSignalMaps for Android runs as a background process, periodically checking signal strength and location. We used this data to measure the percent of time that users had access to a 3G network with a usable level of signal. Based on this information, we found that users are, on aggregate, connected to a 3G network 58% of the time.

What did you do to my county?

The county map is not intended as a political map! Please check out our blog post about this here: North Humberside, are we in 1996?

(*) Editor’s note: In June of 2016, OpenSignal changed the name of its coverage metric to network availability. Availability measures the same thing as coverage — the proportion of time users remain connected to a particular network — but we felt that "availability" was a better reflection of the metric’s definition. For more details see our methodology page.