Mobile internet coverage on trains is terrible reveals new survey

Saqib Shah
October 14, 2014

In what is being termed the most “rigorous train connectivity study ever”, it has been revealed that some of the most popular routes in the UK suffer from mobile internet issues.

The new survey conducted by research firm Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) saw its engineers carry out connectivity tests along the ten busiest commuter routes into and out of London.

The results found that almost a third of mobile internet tasks (30.3%) failed and one in seven calls (14%) failed whilst on trains.

In terms of mobile broadband reliability, GWS states that Vodafone offers the best 3G connectivity with download speeds of up to 2Mbps on average. EE offers the best 4G coverage on trains with speeds of 5.6 Mbps on average.

mobile trains

Surprisingly, the study reveals that more data task failures occur inside of train stations over actual commutes.

One out of four (24.18%) mobile data tasks failed whilst the GWS engineers were on static trains in stations. Whereas, just one out of five failed while they were out on open stretches of track. On the other hand, voice calls were found to drop more whilst on commute than in a station – with failures most likely to occur when a train is travelling at speeds above 50 MPH.

In terms of actual station results, Kings Cross St Pancras had the worst connectivity of all the sites tested. In total, there were 99 voice and data failures across all four major networks during the course of the study at St Pancras. Other poor performers include Radlett, Kentish Town, Upminster and Hendon.

Paul Carter, CEO of GWS, had the following to say about his firm’s findings:

“It’s hard to believe we’re in 2014 and in a situation whereby a trained wizard would have a tough time getting a signal on the Hogwarts Express while it’s sitting in St. Pancras.”

“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.”

About the Author

Saqib Shah

Tech/gaming journalist for What Mobile magazine and website. Interests include film, digital media and foreign affairs.

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