Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy.

Mobile phone coverage across the UK

Mobile phone coverage in the South East

By Jon Barrow

Article 7 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 South East and see which provider has the best 4G network.

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

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.

New analysis performed by Which? and OpenSignal has found that, on average, 4G mobile phone users in the South East are able to access a 4G signal 54.3% of the time. This figure places the region in sixth place out of the 12 areas covered in our study of 4G availability.

In comparison, phone users in London are treated to the best average 4G availability around, able to get a signal almost 70% (69.7%) of the time. The other regions beating the South East in average 4G availability are the North West (54.8%), Northern Ireland (58.5%), the North East (60.3%), and Yorkshire and Humberside (61.3%).

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

The South East scores reasonably well on 4G speed, providing an average of 21.9Mbps. Only four areas in our study can top that list – the East of England (22.3Mbps), East Midlands (22.8Mbps), Yorkshire and Humberside (22.8%), and Northern Ireland (23.3MBps).

Best network for 4G availability in the South East

EE, O2 and Vodafone offer the best 4G availability in the South East.

Users of the Three network in the South East aren't as fortunate, only receiving a 4G signal 35.7% of the time on average.

3G availability and speeds in the South East

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

Customers in the South East have good access to a 3G signal or better, and can make use of 3G or 4G networks 86.4% of the time – only Yorkshire and Humberside (86.7%), and London (91.6%) offer a higher proportion of time with a signal.

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.