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Mobile phone coverage across the UK

Mobile phone coverage in the North West

By Jon Barrow

Article 6 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 West 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.

The latest report produced in partnership between Which? and OpenSignal has found that phone users in the North West have access to a 4G signal 54.8% of the time. This means the area came fifth in our ranking of 12 UK regions.

The North West couldn't best Northern Ireland (58.5%), the North East (60.3%), Yorkshire and Humberside (61.3%) or London (69.7%) for the proportion of time that residents have access to a 4G signal.

However, the region did far better than Wales, which came last in our rankings. Our new data showed that phone users in Wales could only connect to 4G networks 35.4% of the time.

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

When it came to average 4G speeds, the North West slipped to 10th place, with an average speed of 20.6Mbps. Only the North East (20.1Mbps) and London (18.8Mbps) had slower average speeds.

Northern Ireland topped our table, boasting an average 4G speed of 23.3Mbps.

Best network for 4G availability in the North West

In our latest report, we also compared the four networks to find out which offers the best 4G performance.

We found that EE offers the best 4G availability, with its customers able to access a 4G signal 64.8% of the time. On the other end of the scale, customers with Three are only able to receive a 4G signal 39.5% of the time.

This ranking, with EE providing the best 4G availability and Three the worst, mirrored the national picture.

3G availability and speeds in the North West

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

For phone users in the North West, there's an 84.2% chance of receiving a 3G signal or better. This puts the North West in fifth position in this category.

While customers browsing the internet using a 4G connection in the North West experience speeds of 20.6Mbps, those hopping between 3G and 4G get an average speed of 12.6Mbps.

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.