Belfast Telegraph

Vodafone has the best mobile phone network coverage in Northern Ireland, according to Which?

Have you ever had to hold your phone aloft in the air in a desperate bid to get signal?

Well it seems you are not alone, as research has shown that Northern Ireland has some of the least dependable mobile phone connectivity in the UK – particularly when it comes to accessing 3G and 4G.

But overall the best performing mobile phone network across Northern Ireland for 3G and 4G was Vodafone.

Which? teamed up with independent mobile coverage experts OpenSignal to reveal the best and worst mobile phone networks for across the UK, and found that Northern Ireland was in the bottom half of regions for coverage.

As part of the research, 12 regions were looked at in the UK and Northern Ireland was given a ranking against the others.

They included London, Scotland, South East, North West, East of England, Yorkshire and Humberside, West Midlands, East Midlands, North East, South West, Wales and Northern Ireland. And also coverage in major UK cities.

The research shows that residents Northern Ireland have phone signal for 93.6% of the time, but can expect to go without mobile internet (via 3G and 4G) 28.5% of the time – the fourth worst of the twelve regions in the research.

The region also recorded an average time on 3G or 4G of 71.5%.

The research has indicated that choosing the right network in Northern Ireland can greatly affect how likely you are to have a reliable phone signal and a strong mobile internet connection.

If you have a Vodafone contract then you are more likely to have a dependable phone signal that’s available more often (95.1% of the time according to the research).

 However, if staying consistently connected to the web is more important to you, then Three not only has the most reliable 3G network (available 90% of the time), but also faster speeds than the UK average at 5.32Mbps (the second highest 3G speed recorded in the UK).

EE has the best 4G coverage in Northern Ireland, with subscribers having access to the superfast service 44.1% of the time. It’s not the fastest 4G available in Northern Ireland as Vodafone takes that accolade with average download speeds of 18.8Mbps – but it should be the most dependable.

OpenSignal’s “State of the Market” report, produced in association with Which?, looked at the 3G and 4G mobile signals of 39,294 phone users of the EE, O2, Three and Vodafone networks and found big differences in coverage and speeds across the country.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "We’ve looked at consumers' real-life experiences in Northern Ireland and found big differences in service between mobile phone providers.  We want providers to publish the reliability and speeds their networks actually achieve so people can make an informed choice before signing on the dotted line.

“We also support the Government's action on mobile roaming to rid the country of unnecessary 'not spots', so that a lost mobile phone signal becomes a thing of the past.”

The report was taken from between July 1 and October 1 2014.

'Time On' measures the percentage of time users really have access to a 2g, 3g and 4g signal with their provider.

Average overall 'time on'

Highest: Vodafone 95.1%

Lowest: EE 91.8%

Average 'time on' 3G

Highest: Three 90%

Lowest: Vodafone 44.9%

Average 'time on' 4G

Highest: EE 44.1%

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