More than 90% of premises in Wales now have outdoor 4G coverage according to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2016.
It reveals that 4G coverage from one or more of the mobile operators stands at 90.1% in Wales, narrowing the gap with Scotland (92%), England (98.8%) and Northern Ireland (99.3%).
Outdoor 4G coverage from all four mobile networks reached 43.9% in May 2016, up from just over 20% in 2015 (an increase of 23.9 percentage points). This compares with the UK figure of 71.3%.
In the past year, the proportion of adults in Wales using 4G services has almost doubled with more than four in ten (44%) now using a 4G mobile service, compared with 23% in 2015.
The landscape in Wales, with its mountains and valleys coupled with areas of low population density, poses particular technical challenges for the provision of mobile signals.
The terrain is extremely challenging and makes the construction of mobile networks both costly and difficult. The CMR Wales 2016 report shows there is more work to be done.
For example, the proportion of premises with outdoor 3G coverage from all four networks was 74.9% in May 2016 – the lowest across the UK nations and significantly lower than the UK as a whole (92.5%).
However, improvements are being made to extend mobile coverage in Wales. Rules put in place by Ofcom will ensure widespread availability of 4G data services in Wales by the end of 2017. In addition, an agreement reached between the UK Government and the mobile operators will also secure improvements in geographic voice coverage.
Rhodri Williams, Ofcom’s Director in Wales, said: “Mobile users in Wales are enjoying better mobile voice and data services than ever before, and progress is still being made.
“The topography of Wales makes it more difficult and costly to build communications infrastructure. So industry, regulators, planning authorities and landowners must continue working together to extend coverage further.”