Mobile coverage available to 99% of premises in Scotland – with 94% able to access 3G
Figure 5.5 and Figure 5.6 detail levels of mobile coverage based on premises (homes and offices) for 2G and 3G services respectively. 3G is often considered to be the minimum necessary to provide a satisfactory experience of mobile internet, while 2G is satisfactory for telephone calls and text messaging.Figure 5.5 shows that, across the UK, 93.6% of premises have coverage outside the building from all three 2G network operators (Everything Everywhere, O2 and Vodafone). A small proportion of premises in the UK – 0.3% - do not have 2G coverage from any operator.3G coverage is less prevalent, with 77.3% of UK premises having coverage from all operators (including Three) outside the building. Just under 1% of premises have no 3G coverage from any operator. These figures all refer to outdoor coverage. Coverage figures for indoor reception are likely to be lower because radio signals are attenuated as they pass through the fabric of buildings. Indoor reception is highly dependent on the building in which reception is desired and where the user is located in the building. This makes it difficult to calculate indoor coverage figures. Compared with the UK average (93.6%), fewer of Scotland‟s premises have mobile coverage from all three 2G operators: at 91.6%, although this is higher than in Wales (84.1%) and Northern Ireland (88.0%). Scotland‟s 3G coverage is also lower than the UK average, at 68.0% premises coverage for all 3G operators, but is again higher than in Wales (52.4%) and Northern Ireland (55.9%). The lower network coverage in Scotland, compared to England, is a reflection of the country‟s hilly terrain that restricts reception of mobile signals, and its lower population density which makes mobile coverage less commercially viable. Expressed in terms of geographical area, coverage figures are much lower, because mobile masts are more commonly installed near centres of population. 12.8% per cent of the UK area is not covered by any 2G signal, and 24.2% of the UK area is not covered by any 3G signal. Because of its large geographic areas with low population density, over one-quarter (27.5%) of the area of Scotland has no 2G mobile coverage from any operator, which is the highest of the four nations.