PEOPLE outside the UK’s big cities are up to 4.5 times more likely to suffer failed calls on their mobile phones than those who live in the metropolises, research by the Countryside Alliance and mobile analytics firm RootMetrics has shown.

As part of a campaign by the Countryside Alliance to map mobile phone reception, people across the UK have been taking signal samples with their smartphones using RootMetric’s free CoverageMap app.

Data compiled from the app and professional testing shows that people living outside major cities have a much poorer service from their mobile phone contracts. One extreme example is in the vicinity of Leicester, where there is 13.7 times more chance your call will go to dead air than in the city itself.

Countryside Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner said: “Our research shows mobile performance, particularly internet access and call rate, gets worse the further you get from major cities.

“This is perhaps understandable in terms of population density and the logistics of connecting more remote communities. However the fact that someone with extremely poor service in part of the country can pay the same as someone with excellent service elsewhere clearly shows something needs to be done.”

The Countryside Alliance recommends four improvements: • National roaming: This should be a priority for the Government and mobile phone operators. It would reduce the number of “not-spots” in the country without the need to build new masts or increase the current infrastructure.

• 4G rollout should have a clear and tight schedule to ensure that rural areas have access to its benefits by the 2017 deadline.

• Mobile Infrastructure Project: should be closely monitored by the Government to ensure the project stays on track and delivers coverage to the 60,000 not-spots, within budget by March 2015. This includes holding mobile operators to account if they are slow to occupy the new infrastructure.

• Planning regulations: these must be simplified to enable Government targets for digital connectivity and customers’ demands for service to be met.

The Countryside Alliance campaign continues and we hope to create a true picture of UK phone reception in rural areas that we can use to lobby Government and the phone companies. For information on how to use the app and to see results so far, visit