In a recent survey of 3G connectivity in the UK, London was ranked an embarrassing 23rd out of 30 pointing to potential problems during the Olympic games in the summer.

The survey, conducted by comparison site uSwitch, looked at the UK’s 30 largest cities and analysed their 3G coverage. The capital struggled, with mobile download speeds at a low average of just  2.71 Mbps. With the world descending upon London in the summer for the Olympics, the survey raises questions about how the already poorly performing networks will cope when hundreds of thousands of tourists want to connect to the internet.

Across the rest of the UK, Portsmouth came out on top for downloads, with an average speed of 3.46 Mbps, almost 25 percent quicker than London could manage.

From the 1,000 people questioned, 29 percent were unhappy with their current speed, and 47 percent felt there internet was “slow”, and 9 out of 10 users reported troublesome blackspots leaving them with no 3G coverage at all.

Ernest Doku, Technology Expert at uSwitch commented:

“Advancements in mobile communications technology and the rollout of fourth generation mobile Internet [4G] will be crucial if Britain hopes to remain an economic force on the world stage and compete in the global marketplace,”

“More and more businesses are becoming reliant on mobile Internet but, without adequate investment across networks, aspirations of mobile broadband speeds of up to 20 times faster than are currently achieved will be just a pipe dream.”

Ofcom’s recent proposal for the 4G network has suggested that future coverage should include 98% of the population, with emphasis on ensuring those currently suffering from 3G blackspots aren’t left behind. However, Ofcom has stated that it could be another four years before 4G is available in the UK, compared to the USA, where 4G (or next generation high-speed 3G) services have been in place since last year.

With the absence of an adequate 3G or 4G network, it is feared that during the Olympics the UK’s wireless infrastructure will be pushed to its limits. Tech Week Europe have reported that the Government are planning a free Wi-FI network around London in time for the Olympic games, but the questions remains: will the UK be ready to take the strain during London 2012?

(Image by Paul_Clifford)


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