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Can we ever hope to eliminate mobile notspots in London?

The Connected London initiative was launched in the U.K. capital this summer, an ambitious scheme which hopes to drive improvement through digital technology and data. Part of the plan includes tackling mobile broadband "notspots" – where the signal is extremely weak or patchy, or users can't connect to a network at all.

But even in the best-served metropolitan regions, can mobile operators ever hope to achieve 100% connectivity? In a guest article for, Brendan Gill, Co-founder and CEO of OpenSignal looked at the state of London’s mobile notspots and what can be done about them.

Brendan commented that the elimination of notspots is a commendable goal – but unfortunately, it’s not a very realistic one:

“Notspots will never go away completely as they’re part of the nature of building cellular networks. We believe it’s unlikely any operator will ever achieve this goal, or even reach 99 percent network coverage in urban areas. The ‘holy grail’ score of 100 percent connectivity may be just that – a myth.”

Smartphone London Eye Hand Photography Tourism

Source: Max Pixel

Brendan shared some of OpenSignal's data on 4G availability in London, explaining how it can help us to understand notspots in the capital:

"OpenSignal’s 4G availability metric measures the proportion of time users with a 4G device and subscription are able to get an LTE connection. As such we can use this as an indicator of how far an operator has come toward eliminating notspots on their 4G networks. To illustrate how close the U.K.’s operators have come to that goal, we’ve taken a look at how the U.K.’s four national operators performed in London in 4G availability. EE scored the highest in the capital with LTE reach of nearly 89 percent in our measurements, while all four players were over 79 percent. That means London still has plenty of notspots on its 4G networks."


But as Brendan concluded, London isn’t the only city with 4G notspot problems. Some of the fastest and best LTE cities in the world still suffer from patchy LTE coverage:

"South Korea topped our 4G availability metric in our most recent global State of LTE report, and came fourth of 88 countries for 4G download speed, making it arguably the most advanced 4G market in the world. But the global leader in LTE reach scored 97.5 percent in our 4G availability metric, while the capital Seoul reached 97.9 percent – two percent off the 100 percent mark. As 4G networks mature and operator focus begins to shift to 5G and beyond, it’s probable that we’ll have to continue to contend with notspots, even in the world’s most connected cities."

Be sure to check out our latest State of Mobile Networks: UK report. And if you’re a mobile consumer in the U.K., we’d love to hear about your own personal experience streaming video on 3, EE, O2 or Vodafone. Let us know in the comments below.