Each major UK mobile network provides a mobile broadband coverage checker online which will show you the type of mobile broadband signal available at a given UK address or postcode. Just use the convenient links below to check the signal available for you from all the major mobile broadband providers.
When choosing a mobile broadband provider you'll want to get an idea of the mobile broadband speed and performance you're likely to be able to receive in your local area. If you can, ask others already using the service where you are. Taking a look at the signal level on a 3G phone may also give you an idea.
Below we give quick links to the mobile broadband coverage checkers provided by the major mobile broadband networks. These will tell you if a 3G mobile broadband service is provided at your postcode. However, these checkers can't be relied upon 100%, as local factors such as adjacent buildings may prevent you getting a signal at your desired location. Fortunately, the major networks all now provide money back guarantees, so adhere to their conditions carefully and you should be able to return your USB modem if you find there's no local signal.
Mobile Broadband Coverage Maps
The UK coverage maps below will give you a rough idea of how comprehensive the mobile coverage of each major mobile broadband provider is:
Factors Influencing Mobile Broadband Performance
The following factors have an influence on the mobile broadband performance you will obtain:
Type of signal available from the network, i.e. is it 3G HSPA or 2G GPRS. You will only get reasonable performance where you have a 3G signal available.
The distance you are from the mobile mast. Performance will be better the nearer you are.
Obstacles between you and the mast, such as buildings or hills, can degrade performance.
Network load. Performance can be degraded if too many people are trying to use the local mobile network.
Weather conditions. Heavy rain and snow can affect performance.
Performance is better when you are outside. When you are inside a building, there is more potential for radio interference, particularly if the building has thick walls or you are deep within it.
Ways to Improve Mobile Broadband Performance
Being higher is better. You'll get a better signal when upstairs.
If using a dongle, use the USB cable with it to reduce interference from your laptop.
Use near a window as you'll get better radio reception through the window. If you are using a mobile WiFi hotspot, then MiFi, then place it by the window with the strongest signal.
Which Network Provides the Widest Mobile Broadband Coverage?
After their merger to form Everything Everywhere, T-Mobile and Orange now share their networks and have the largest 3G network, which covers 98% of the UK population. T-Mobile is continually investing in its network and has stated its aim is for its 3G network to cover 99.6% of the population within the next three years. (Figures correct as at Sep 2012.) T-Mobile and Orange now use smart network sharing, where if you start to lose signal on one network, the signal strength on the other network is automatically checked, and if found to be better you are switched over seamlessly without you noticing.
3 Mobile's 3G network covers more than 97% of the population (as at Sep 2012).
Will 4G Improve UK Mobile Broadband Coverage?
4G mobile broadband may be launched as early as October 2012, and will initially be rolled out in cities where it makes most economic sense for the network operators. However, the Government is committed to increasing UK mobile broadband coverage, and it is hoped that by 2015 4G will be able to reach 98% of people in villages, towns and cities. The 800MHz band to be used for 4G is suited to providing widespread mobile coverage, which should be good for rural areas, although indoor coverage is harder to provide than outdoor coverage. By 2015 it's possible that 99% of the UK population will have outdoor 4G coverage.
Try this 4G mobile broadband FAQ for detailed information on 4G.
Mobile Broadband Coverage Targets
Regulator Ofcom has made it a condition for 4G bidders that they should provide indoor mobile broadband coverage to at least 98% of the population by 2017.
The networks are continually investing in their networks, so mobile broadband coverage should continually improve, but the big step forward should be the introduction of 4G networks.
Mobile Broadband Standards
Below are important mobile broadband communication standards for the UK:
LTE-Advanced (4G) From 100 Mbit/s when moving to 1 Gbit/s not moving or moving at low speeds.
LTE (4G) (stands for Long Term Evolution) 100 to 300 Mbit/s down; 50 to 75 Mbit/s up. This standard is based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies, using modulation technologies to increase the capacity and speed. LTE is expected to become the first truly global mobile phone standard.
HSPA+ (4G) (stands for Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) 21 to 672 Mbit/s down; 5.8 to 168 Mbit/s up. This is an evolution of HSPA that upgrades the existing 3G network and provides telecom operators with a way to achieve better speeds without having to deploy a new radio interface.
UMTS HSPA (3G) 14.4 Mbit/s down; 5.8 Mbit/s up
GSM EDGE (2.75G) up to 237 kbit/s
GSM GPRS (2.5G) 56 to 115 kbit/s
Thanks for visiting our Mobile Broadband Coverage page. We hope it helped find what you were looking for.