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Mobile phone coverage across the UK

Mobile phone coverage in the North East

By Jon Barrow

Article 4 of 13

New data from Which? and Opensignal uncovers the reality of 4G coverage throughout the UK. Find out what it's really like in the North East and see which provider has the best 4G network.

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The information contained on the page is based on mobile phone coverage from June to August 2016. You can read more up to date analysis in our 2017 national report and 2017 city breakdown.

Unique research, produced by Which? and mobile coverage specialists OpenSignal, has found that 4G mobile phone users in the North East can get a 4G signal around 60% of the time (60.3%). This means that the region ranks third out of 12, only behind Yorkshire and Humberside (61.3%), and London (69.7%).

The list of regions that lag behind the North East for average 4G availability include the North West (54.8%), South East (54.3%) and West Midlands (52.3%). Wales came bottom of our table with an average 4G availability of just 35.4%.

Find out which network is the best where you live with our free coverage checker.

However, the North East compares poorly with other areas when it comes to 4G speeds.

Our data shows that 4G customers in the area experience an average download speed of 20.1Mbps. With an average 4G download speed of 18.8Mbps, only London came lower. The top performer in this category is Northern Ireland, with an average download speed of 23.3Mbps.

Best network for 4G availability in the North East

O2 (70.2%), EE (67%) and Vodafone (60.7%) all offer good 4G availability in the North East. And in fact, O2 customers have a better chance of getting a 4G signal in the region than anywhere else in the country bar London.

Three's customers have the lowest chance of getting a 4G signal, with the network available just 43.4% of the time.

3G availability and speeds in the North East

If 4G isn't available customers will often drop on to the slower 3G network.

Customers in the North East can access 3G or better 83.9% of the time, which places the region sixth in this category. At the bottom of our table is Wales, with an average 3G/4G availability of 70.8%.

Average 3G/4G speeds in London reach 12.9Mbps, while the North East improves on this slightly with 13.2Mbps.

Our analysis

The information used in this analysis comes from a regular collaboration between Which? and coverage experts OpenSignal, and is based on more than 500m data readings taken from people that have downloaded the free OpenSignal app.

By tracking 28,841 UK app users around the clock between June and August 2016, we're able to give a definitive account of the real mobile phone user experience. We're able to accurately report on network speeds and to chart our own metric, ‘availability', which looks at the proportion of time that users have a network connection.

We think that this unique availability measurement, which determines whether the network is doing its job by providing a connection where it's needed most, is far more valuable than simply reporting predicted coverage based on computer models or one-off drive-by tests.

Read more about our approach, and download the free app, on the OpenSignal website.

Which network do you say is best?

Once you know which networks offer the best coverage where you live and work, you'll want to know which ones offer the best customer service and value for money. We asked 4,100 members of the public to tell us about what they love and hate about their network.

Read the results of our best mobile networks survey to find out the winners and the losers.