According to a study released by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), 4G mobile phone coverage in the UK lags behind Albania, Panama, Peru and Romania, and mobile users are only able to connect to a 4G network about 53 per cent of the time.
The NIC stated that poor mobile phone connectivity was hindering progress in the UK and called for eradicating “digital deserts” in public places, including roads, rail lines and city centres.
The NIC is headed by former Labour minister Andrew Adonis, who expressed concern that forthcoming 5G coverage would experience the same problems currently plaguing 4G coverage if the Government does not act promptly.
Adonis stated: “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 recommended that a new dedicated cabinet minister should be responsible for ensuring that mobile connectivity in the UK keeps pace with the latest technological standards worldwide.
The report also urged that media regulator Ofcom works with the appropriate ministers to enact a universal obligation standard by 2025 that ensures mobile communication essentials are available to all, wherever and whenever they need them.
“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,” Adonis said.