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Mobile phone coverage across the UK

Mobile phone coverage in Wales

By Jon Barrow

Article 5 of 5

New data from Which? and Opensignal uncovers the reality of 4G coverage throughout the UK. Find out what it's really like in Wales 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.

New research has found that phone users in Wales have the least access to 4G networks in the UK. The unique research, conducted by Which? and OpenSignal, found that, on average, 4G customers in Wales can get a 4G signal just 35.4% of the time.

The result is more than 10 percentage points lower than the second-worst region, the South West, and is about half the level of access customers in London experience. The capital topped the list of 12 regions, with phone users there able to get a 4G signal 69.7% of the time.

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

Wales is in the middle of the pack when it comes to 4G speed. We found that 4G customers in the country received an average download speed of 21.7Mbps. That's not as quick as customers experienced in the fastest region, Northern Ireland (23.3Mbps), but still faster than many home broadband connections.

Best network for 4G availability in Wales

EE customers in Wales enjoy the best coverage overall and, in our analysis, managed to get a 4G signal 45.3% of the time. Customers on the Three network, on the other hand, had a torrid time and were only able to connect to 4G a quarter of the time (25.6%).

3G availability and speeds in Wales

When a 4G signal isn't available, phones will usually switch on to the slower 3G network. Even on this older, more commonly used network, Wales came off the worst. Availability is 70.8% – more than 20% lower than in London (91.6%).

It was a similar story for download speeds. Customers moving between 3G and 4G networks in Wales experienced an average download speed of just 10.1Mbps. In the next-worst region, the South West, it was 11.5Mbps.

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.