St Pancras station worst for mobile coverage in London commuter belt


More than a third of 4G data sessions (37.1 per cent) failed at London’s ten busiest commuter stations

St Pancras station is the worst station in London’s commuter belt for mobile phone coverage, according to network testing firm, Global Wireless Solutions.

GWS’ network testing team suffered an average of 99 voice and data failures at the station which serves more than 45 million people every year. The figure was almost double that of almost of its closest rival, Radlett (53 failures). The study tested connectivity at London’s ten busiest commuters stations in and out of the capital.

The study also found that Vodafone had the best 3G network at the stations with an 82 per cent reliability rate, while EE (74.1 per cent reliability) had the best 4G network. It tied with Vodafone on reliability but had the faster download speeds (see tables below).

Overall, 23.2 per cent of 3G tasks and over a third (37.1 per cent) of 4G tasks failed during the testing. One in four data failures occurred while trains were still at the station, while one in five failed when the tasks were performed on open stretches of track.

Three had the most reliable and best quality call network but some commuters still struggle to make voice calls. On average, 14 per cent of voice calls made at the ten stations failed.

It also found that EE, O2 and Vodafone still rely heavily on their 2G network to make voice calls. GWS engineers found that they were on O2’s 2G network 60 per cent of the time, followed by EE (41.8 per cent) and Vodafone (40 per cent).

“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,” said GWS chief executive officer Paul Carter.

“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.”

Table 1: Packet data reliability: the big four operators on 3G and 4G                                              

Data Type 3 EE O2 VODAFONE
3G 77.4% 69.8% 78.0% 82.0%
4G 35.4% 74.1% 65.9% 75.1%

Table 2: How long it is likely to take commuters with 3G data to upload a picture/download a song/download a video?

Time to upload 4MB picture (seconds): 33 36.2 45.4 48.4
Time to download 4MB song (seconds): 23.3 21 26.8 16.1
Download time for 4 minutes of HD video (seconds): 41.2 42.4 46.8 41.5

Table 3: How long it is likely to take commuters with 4G data to upload a picture/download a song/download a video? 

Time to upload 4MB picture (seconds): 16.3 10.8 16.3 9.5
Time to download 4MB song (seconds): 10.8 5.8 7.1 7.7
Download time for 4 minutes of HD video (seconds): 16.2 7.8 11.2 12.4

Table 4: Top 10 worst-connected commuter stations

(worst to best)
Station Average number of
Voice and date failures
1 St. Pancras 99
2 Radlett 53
3 Kentish Town 43
4 Upminster 42
5 Elstree and Borehamwood 36
6 Hendon 33.5
7 St. Alban’s City 33
8 Cricklewood 27.5
9 Kidbrooke 27
10 Ockenden 26