Never mind 4G ... there's plenty of places in Glasgow that struggle to get a 3G signal

IT's as much part of Glasgow's ­basic infrastructure as the city's water mains, ­powerlines and potholed streets.

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Phone reception varies throughout the city
Phone reception varies throughout the city

But reception for 3G - the third and still largely standard generation of mobile ­telephony - continues to vary dramatically.

Several key parts of the city, including parts of Shawlands and Broomhill, have a terrible service, marked as poor by government regulator Ofcom.

So too does part of Parkhead, close to the main venue of this summer Commonwealth Games while most of Dalmarnock is merely "average".

Council bosses - who have just published an Ofcom map of Glasgow, simplified and reprinted by the Evening Times today - admit all is far from ideal.

Their solution is to put in place open-air Wi-Fi access to the city centre and the east end, just in time for the Games. This would use the fourth generation of mobile technology, 4G in telecoms jargon.

A spokesman for the local authority said: "The growing use of smartphones and tablets has been a remarkable feature of recent times and the council wants to see the best possible service for the people of Glasgow.

"There is currently strong coverage for 3G users in central Glasgow and many other parts of the city.

"But there are variations in the quality of reception in certain areas and we want to see improvements being made.

"The council is currently tendering for telecommunications provider to develop a new wireless network for the city.

""We hope to have the new Wi-Fi network in place in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"Glasgow was one of the first locations in the UK to benefit from rollout of 4G networks in 2013, a major benefit for individuals and businesses who use those services.

"Having access to a new wireless network will help to put Glasgow at the forefront of mobile technology in Scotland."

The spokesman is right to say the city centre has better ­reception than much of the rest of Glasgow. But even in the area - arguably the economic heartland of Scotland - the signal is far from perfect.

There are several patches, or postcodes, were reception is graded as "excellent", including one small ones off Buchanan Street near Royal Exchange Square. And the signal is good at Queen Street Station, Charing Cross and Argyle Street stations ­(although it drops to "fair" a block north of Argyle Street). It is merely average at Central.

Excellent rec­eption, according to the Ofcom map, can be found in some postcodes the Gorbals, especially the New Gorbals, the Necropolis, Kinning Park and Finnieston.

Bad patches include chunks of parts of Broomhill and Gartnavel, Govan, Shawlands, Tollcross and Shettleston and London Road east of Bridgeton.

The WiFi deal designed to overcome some of this patch ­reception will come under a deal between the council and a provider. It would see street furniture owned by the local authority used to mount 4G kit.

When in place, the deal will mean anyone could log on to the ­internet for free from their smartphone, laptop or tablet on a bench at venues ­including George Square, the athletes' village in Dalmarnock or areas within the Clyde Gateway.

In the longer term, the free Wi-Fi network could be rolled out to more areas of the city. Glasgow City Council aims to strike a deal with an internet provider which will allow residents and visitors to log on for free.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief ­executive Stuart Patrick said: "Poor 3G reception doesn't sit well with Glasgow's plans to be a city of tomorrow. We're engaging with the City Council in examining the ­digital strategy for the future. Broadband ­Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G are all part of this strategy.

"It is important that we have at least as good digital connectivity as anywhere."

david.leask@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Consumer electronics

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