/ Mobile provider highlands ?

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Jasonic on 30 Nov 2016
Went with vodafone last time as apparently better coverage in the Highlands, still true?
Thanks in advance!
girlymonkey - on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to Jasonic:

The Highlands covers many areas! Vodafone is bad in Aviemore. I've found it not too bad in other places.
Jasonic on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to girlymonkey:

Thanks- west coast mostly..
BnB - on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to Jasonic:

Vodafone is best on Skye
AlH - on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to Jasonic:

Vodaphone is pretty good for voice but poor for data. EE seems to give better overall coverage asking amongst friends and colleagues in Lochaber.
skog on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to Jasonic:

It used to be Voda for most of the mainland Highlands, and O2 for some of the islands (relic of the old BT cellnet network).

It isn't that clear any more; my impression is that EE is probably best overall, but there are plenty of places where that isn't the case.

(I currently have Voda on my work phone, giffgaff [uses O2 network] for my personal phone, and my wife uses EE, so I do get a good chance to check this out!)
inboard - on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to Jasonic:

Look on the ofcom website for a map showing comparative coverage for the different networks, which can be modified to show different signal types (e.g. 4G [hah!], 3G, gprs). Not perfect or wholly accurate but useful indication of (theoretical) coverage.
skog on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to inboard:

> but useful indication of (theoretical) coverage.

I've found it no use at all for the weaker data coverage - it frequently says there's some when there isn't.

It seems to work quite well for voice/text coverage, though.
Jasonic on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to Jasonic:

Thanks for replies everyone- sounds like EE is a contender
buzby - on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to Jasonic:

I cover the west coast of Scotland for work and the west highlands for hillwalking, I've used all three and when my work migrated my phone to EE I wasn't happy expecting a poorer service.
I've had to eat my words since then and admit it seems the best overall, so much that I changed my private phone to the EE network as well.
Still patchy as they all are but definitely better for data coverage and seems to be competitive on voice coverage as well.
Martin W on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to skog:

> I've found it no use at all for the weaker data coverage - it frequently says there's some when there isn't.

> It seems to work quite well for voice/text coverage, though.

Data is a different issue to voice. My understanding from locals and people in/close to the industry is that Vodafone data coverage in the Highlands is appalling (which it is) because their data-specific infrastructure provision in the region is poor/non-existent. You can get plenty of signal bars on the phone but zip data coverage. This has certainly been my experience on my visits to the Plockton area this year: sitting in the garden of the Plockton Hotel overlooking the beach with a clear view of the mast on Carn a' Bhealaich Mhoir, a full set of signal bars on the phone and no mobile data whatsoever. (This is actually what the Ofcom map shows: Vodafone basically has no mobile data coverage in the North West. It's not clear to me how they are allowed to get away with this.)

However, if you want to be able to call or text the emergency services if the ess aitch one tee hits the fan up on a hill somewhere then voice coverage is the key, and Vodafone seems to have fewer and smaller white areas on the Ofcom map than the others. Some providers do manage better in a few specific areas, though.

The sooner Ofcom mandates network roaming within the UK the better IMO.
Andy Nisbet - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to Martin W:

I was told by an engineer once that this is because the masts are often far apart while still in line of sight (near enough anyway). The mast emits a strong signal which your phone picks up as full coverage, but your phone isn't strong enough to actually use it.
skog on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to Martin W:

> You can get plenty of signal bars on the phone but zip data coverage.

Yes - this is very much what I've experienced with Voda. It happens with O2 quite a lot, too, but seems to be less common with EE (in my experience, at least).
Martin W on 03 Dec 2016
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

> I was told by an engineer once that this is because the masts are often far apart while still in line of sight (near enough anyway). The mast emits a strong signal which your phone picks up as full coverage, but your phone isn't strong enough to actually use it.

But that should be the case for any mobile provider, shouldn't it, not just Vodafone? The mobile data issue seems to be much worse with Vodafone than any other mobile provider. They're fairly notorious for it in the NW. The Ofcom coverage map supports this view, too.
Martin W on 08 Dec 2016
In reply to Martin W:

> if you want to be able to call or text the emergency services if the ess aitch one tee hits the fan up on a hill somewhere then voice coverage is the key, and Vodafone seems to have fewer and smaller white areas on the Ofcom map than the others. Some providers do manage better in a few specific areas, though.

I've just realised that there is a significant flaw in this advice: if you are trying to call 999 (or 112, in the UK they're the same thing) your phone will use any signal it can find. So in those situations, it doesn't matter who your contracted mobile phone service provider is. (Note, though, that the emergency services will not be able to call you back if you don't have signal from your provider - so either don't drop the call, or confirm a way to get through to the person handling your call if you do have to hang up and call back.)

You can't send a text to 112 or 999 if you don't have signal from your own network provider.

http://www.mountainsafety.co.uk/EP-999-or-112-Which-is-Best-aspx
Jim Fraser - on 09 Dec 2016
In reply to Jasonic:
There is a plan. It's only part-way through happening but it is in the process of improving the mobile reception across the Highlands. Most of the new stuff is 4G. Many of the improvements completed so far are nearer Inverness. Predictable in a way.

In the meantime, many of the basics remain the same.

Vodafone generally has the best coverage of mountainous parts of the Highlands. O2 is similar but is a lower powered network. Both are still mainly 900 MHz 2G in rural Highland areas (a few have EDGE which improves data rates). If you want use data on 2G then use Opera Mini for your browser (the Opera server chops up the website into just the essentials).

EE usually has 3G on every mast. The 3G is 2100 MHz and even their 2G is 1800 MHz. The masts are too far apart and the mountains totally mess it up.

I'd say it's between Voda and EE. You are more likely to get Vodafone but if you get EE it will probably have a higher data rate.

In mountain emergencies, 999 roaming allows you to make emergency calls on any network. If making a 999 call with dodgy reception, make certain that you plan the call to get the essentials across to the police effectively and reasonably quickly. With 999 roaming, you cannot be called back. Your battery energy needs careful management. Arrange to call again in maybe 30 minutes: getting their incident number will help.


(Most important of all, do not go to Glen Affric or Knoydart for four days and tell your loved ones that you'll ring home every day. Not gonna work. Your loved ones won't get a call but twenty other folks will!)
Post edited at 01:24
Thugitty Jugitty on 09 Dec 2016
In reply to Jim Fraser:

Would it be better to have a foreign sim which can roam between networks? Or am I talking rubbish?
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Jim Fraser - on 09 Dec 2016
In reply to Thugitty Jugitty:

I have seen roaming in some territories and then stuck to one agreed provider in others so I am not sure how that works these days.

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