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O2 is worst mobile network for London's squashed commuters

James Temperton
14 Oct 2014
Mobile signal on commuter lines into London
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Paying thousands of pounds a year to crawl into London on an overcrowded train? Hopefully you don't use O2

O2 is the worst mobile phone company for London's commuters with the network creaking under its over-reliance on ancient 2G technology. Tests on the ten busiest commuter lines into London showed that all UK networks were struggling to handle calls and data.

One in three mobile browsing sessions and one in seven voice calls made on commuter trains fails. EE, O2 and Vodafone all increase network capacity by reducing audio quality but many calls are dropped and websites and apps fail to load.

A study by mobile analysis firm GWS found that 23 per cent of 3G data packets and 37 per cent of 4G data packets travelling across mobile networks on commuter lines fail. EE, O2 and Vodafone fell back on old 2G infrastructure to try and plug the gaps in 3G and 4G technology.

O2 used 2G more than 60 per cent of the time with EE using 2G 42 per cent of the time. Vodafone relied on its 2G network 40 per cent of the time, GWS said.

The study found that Three, which doesn't have a 2G network, was the most reliable voice network for London's commuters. Vodafone was best for 3G and EE was best for 4G, researchers at GWS said.

Researchers also looked at mobile signal at stations and found that most of the poorest performers were on the outskirts of London. Despite that the worst station for commuters was St Pancras, with calls regularly dropped and data packets failing. Radlett, Kentish Town, Upminster and Elstree and Borehamwood completed the top five worst stations.

While O2 ranked worse due to its over-use of 2G all the networks performed poorly in the tests. Data deadspots and dropped calls litter London's main commuter lines into stations including Charing Cross, Euston, Liverpool Street and Waterloo.

GWS has produced a map displaying all the data with options to filter it by network, voice, 3G and 4G.

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