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Revealed: The Best Mobile Network For London’s Commuters

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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1 in 3 attempts to get online and 1 in 7 voice calls on popular commuter train routes fail, GWS study finds

London’s commuters face a torrid time when trying to use their mobile phones, a new survey has found, with the vast majority of tasks failing due to poor network connections.

A survey by networking experts GWS found that less than a third (30.3 percent) of mobile internet connections attempted by the capital’s commuters was successful, highlighting the poor state of mobile networks around the city.

The study found that Vodafone customers appeared to have the best 3G data service while commuting, with the operator’s network the most reliable in terms of successfully sending data packets and could offer the fastest download speeds (2Mbps on average during testing).

EE offered the best 4G data service; its 4G network tied with Vodafone in the reliability stakes but was the fastest when it came to downloads (5.6Mbps on average during testing).

St Pancras International train stationBlack spots

The company carried out tests while travelling back and forth on the ten most popular commuting routes into and out of London, and also found that many phone calls were going uncompleted, with just one in seven being successful.

Commuters using Three’s mobile network enjoyed the best voice connection, with the operator taking joint top spot when it came to the number of calls completed, but edging ahead in terms of the quality of the calls.

O2 performed the worst, with the survey finding that the operator had to fall back on using its 2G networks to handle calls more than 60 percent of the time, and that half-rate codecs, which reduce audio quality, were used for nearly a third of all calls.

Overall, St Pancras station  (pictured above) fared the worst in terms of connectivity, with GWS’ engineers experiencing an average of 99 voice and packet data failures across the four major operators during testing.

“Leaves on the track, the wrong kind of snow, having to stand up all the way to work and back – commuters have enough to contend with without the kind of mobile connectivity problems we’re revealing today,” said Paul Carter, CEO of GWS.

“Pressure from commuters makes it inevitable that trains won’t keep their status as mobile dead zones for much longer. It’d be great to see networks, rail operators and station-masters taking the lead on improving connectivity for commuters – rather than having to be dragged into the 21st Century kicking and screaming.”

According to a study by research firm RootMetrics earlier this year, London receives just the fifth best mobile service in the UK. Liverpool topped the table with an average weighted result of 92.5 out of 100, ahead of Manchester on 90.9 and Birmingham on 89.6, with London scoring 87.42.

The company also found named EE as the best mobile operator in London following a series of network tests in the capital, followed by Three, O2 and Vodafone.

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