The Telecoms regulator Ofcom has published a map of United Kingdom depicting the minimum level of 3G coverage across the land in purple following a Freedom of Information request from a former business journalist.
The document was prepared in January 2009 and as such is already six months old. The plans. which show the 3G coverage from all the major mobile phone networks namely O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone and 3, contain some surprises.
3 Networks, the smallest of them all appears to have the best coverage in UK with Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone and O2 following. It is interesting to note that the last two networks have already announced that they would be pooling their networks to save costs.
Large patches of land are actually not covered by any networks although Ofcom mentions that the network operators will give a more detailed assessment of speeds and coverage customers can expect on their own websites. The Ofcom publication uses outdoor coverage calculations rather than indoors.
There are also rumours that Orange could be joining Mobile Broadband Networks Limited, the joint venture launched by T-Mobile and 3 Networks, to increase its 3G coverage without incurring significant costs.
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Vast areas of the country are still not covered by any networks and it would have been interesting to find out how many people actually leave there - especially in the Scottish Highlands, central rural areas of Wales and Northern Ireland. This newly released document is sure to reignite the debate about the Digital Divide that exists.
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