How Ofcom is helping to improve mobile coverage

09 February 2022

Improving mobile coverage is a priority for Ofcom.

We are leading or supporting the delivery of several initiatives to improve mobile coverage across the UK.

Extending mobile coverage in hard-to-reach areas

The Shared Rural Network (SRN) project was agreed between the UK Government and mobile operators in March 2020, as a key way of improving mobile coverage to support the Government’s ambition of achieving 95% coverage of the UK’s landmass by 2025.

Under the agreement, each operator committed to reaching 88% coverage of the UK landmass by 2024, and 90% of the landmass within six years from 2020 (subject to certain conditions), with an expectation that this will see the ‘at least one operator’ footprint reach 95% of UK landmass by 2025.

Ofcom is responsible for assessing operators’ coverage against the 88% and 90% targets (including specific targets for each UK nation), which we have added to the operators’ spectrum licences to make them binding. We will also report on progress during this time in our Connected Nations reports.

Improving indoor coverage

Operators are exploring a range of solutions to serve consumers in weak coverage areas (and in particular to improve indoor coverage), such as technology that allows calls to be made over broadband and Wi-Fi calling (the ability to make and receive a call and texts/SMS over a Wi-Fi network). Some operators are also continuing to offer solutions based on the deployment of femto-cells to provide coverage indoors.

We have expanded the range of static indoor mobile repeaters that people can install themselves, without a licence. These devices boost the signals between a mobile operator’s base station and a mobile phone being used indoors. Our new rules allow ‘provider-specific’ and ‘multi-operator’ repeaters to boost the signals of more than one mobile operator at a time.

We have published some tips for improving your indoor coverage.

Driving up quality of service through better consumer information

We want to help consumers make the right choices by providing them with high quality and reliable information about mobile coverage available from different operators.

We already provide coverage maps based on each of the mobile operators’ predictions, allowing you to compare coverage predictions across all four operators. We are continuing to work with the mobile operators to improve the accuracy and consistency of 4G and 5G coverage information Ofcom and industry provides. We are also exploring how different sources of real-world data can provide consumers with more information about the mobile performance they can expect to receive.

We have published some advice for maximising your mobile coverage.

Road and rail coverage

We are publishing 4G and 5G signal strength measurement data we have gathered when driving along UK roads. Our aim is to support wider work by policymakers to identify potential solutions and areas to target improvements.

Separately, we have provided technical support to the Department for Transport and Network Rail to support their work to improve mobile services on the railways.