2G phones better than smartphones in rural Britain: Ofcom

Mobile & tablets

by CBR Staff Writer| 12 August 2011

Network coverage, simpler antennas make older models better, says telecom regulator

New research from telecom regulator Ofcom has suggested that 2G, older models of phones are better than 3G smartphones for making calls in rural areas.

The technical study was conducted using mobile handsets from two different categories. One category consisted of smartphones (which support 3G and 2G networks) and the other consisted of feature/entry-level phones (2G only).

Ofcom found in a study that reliability of 2G phones increased in rural areas. It reasons that 2G older models of phones have less complex antennas and switch between 2G and 3G networks without issues.

Ofcom said that the older phones "generally returned somewhat better performance than smartphones for call completion and call set-up. This may be due to the reduced complexity of antenna on these devices and 2G phones not having issues in switching between 2G and 3G networks".

Ofcom said, "As would be expected, all the 2G operators have widespread coverage of the roads that were surveyed with relatively few not-spots. 3G coverage is much lower on the roads driven, likely reflecting the stage of network rollout in Devon at the time of the study.

"All the operators offer good coverage in the major conurbations - with service degrading with distance from the central areas."

The regulator also said that voice clarity doe not vary much between 2G and 3G mobile phones.

The Devon study found "no statistical differences in the performance ranges between handsets of the same type for call completion and voice quality. For example, all handsets in the survey recorded call completion rates of over 95%."

"However, in the more rural areas that the phones were tested, the feature/entry-level phones generally returned somewhat better performance than smartphones for call completion and call setup," said Ofcom.

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