Ofcom: Rural customers not satisfied with UK phone coverage

Research by Ofcom has found that a third of those living in rural areas are not satisfied by their mobile phone service.

In a report released this week, the regulator, in conjunction with independent firm RootMetrics, also found that typically only around 85 per cent of calls made in rural areas take place without any issues.

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The research highlighted the poor service experienced by customers in certain areas of the country, with varying levels of satisfaction dependant on the service provider.

According to The Guardian, the report found that just 79.9 per cent of Vodafone 2G and 3G calls in rural areas were completed successfully, compared to 86 per cent over the 3 network, 87.4 per cent on O2 and 93.7 per cent on EE. In urban areas, EE was again top, successfully completing 97.5 per cent of calls, with Vodafone again bottom at 95.3 per cent.

The figures include "dropped" calls, when a call is connected, but terminates unexpectedly and "blocked" calls, when a customer has a phone signal, but the call fails due to lack of capacity.

David Cameron, a Vodafone customer, urged ministers to improve mobile coverage in rural areas back in June, but operators are reluctant to do so with locals opposed to building more masts in the countryside.

Ofcom claims that its figures are more accurate than those provided by mobile phone operators as they include attempts to make a call when outside network coverage. The regulator also said it would not force phone companies to improve services in rural areas, but rather the report should help consumers make an informed decision on their mobile network.

"This will help consumers choose a service that suits them and encourages providers to improve performance," it says.

Read more: Ofcom points out sluggish speeds and broadband divide in UK cities

Following detailed tests carried out across five UK cities, Ofcom announced that it will also be publishing a report on 3G and 4G mobile broadband speeds later this year.