Economic geography 2015: An analysis of the determinants of 3G and 4G coverage in the UK

27 November 2015

This report outlines the results of Ofcom’s research into the determinants of 3G and 4G coverage in the UK.

In 2013, Ofcom published a report titled “The Availability of Communications Services in the UK”.[1] This included regression analysis to assess factors that affect the level of 3G mobile coverage available to consumers in different areas. Here, we update that analysis using 3G coverage data for 2015, and also extend it to consider 4G coverage.

The decision to offer 3G and 4G mobile coverage in a particular area is essentially a commercial judgement by the MNOs.  Profitability will depend on the likely demand for mobile network services and the costs of providing these services. Areas where demand is likely to be weak and/or where coverage is expensive to provide are less likely to have good coverage.

Using detailed data provided by MNOs, we undertook a statistical analysis of 3G and 4G mobile coverage. We use a relatively simple entry model to investigate the factors that affect the MNOs’ local entry decisions.

[1] The availability of communications services in the UK,, May 2013

Full Report 

Economic Geography 2015 (PDF, 813.1 KB)