Why can’t you get a mobile signal indoors?

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No Mobile SignalThere’s nothing that annoys me more than the lack of a decent phone signal. I’m paying for a 4G contract with Vodafone but 90% of the time I get 3G at best.

That’s not the worst of it however, I was joking with Dan earlier that whenever I call him I tend to wander into the garden. The reason for this is if I’m in the kitchen or walk through the hall way even my voice signal cuts out.

Now it turns out I’m not alone, the guys at Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) have polled 2,000 UK adults across the UK and then spent 6 weeks collecting and analysing data from inside London homes to find out just how good the UK’s mobile networks are. The results are that broadly they’re rubbish inside homes, especially in the kitchen.

Worst UK cities for mobile blackspots



% of respondents reporting mobile blackspots

1 Liverpool 60%
2 Cardiff 54%
3 Bristol 53%
4 Norwich 48%
5 Glasgow 46%
6 Leicester 46%
= Birmingham 46%
8 Coventry 44%
9 Edinburgh 44%
10 Manchester 43%

Country wide survey

Overall, GWS’ consumer survey suggests that 40% of Brits have some kind of mobile blackspot in their home. Almost 1 in 3 respondents say that they ‘regularly’ have issues making and receiving mobile calls from home; the proportion of respondents that reported regularly experiencing mobile internet connectivity issues while at home was also 30%.

1 in 4 of the UK adults cited that mobile data connectivity issues and 1 in 7 respondents said that voice calling blackspots had determined their decision to switch their mobile service provider.

London Tests reveal EE/3 the worst networks, Vodafone/O2 best

Over a period of 6 weeks, GWS used advanced mobile network testing rigs to record the ‘layer 3’ network information which most accurately reflects consumers’ mobile experiences.

35% of the Londoners GWS surveyed for the consumer poll described above said that they had some kind of mobile blackspot in their home, and when carrying out its own testing in the capital GWS found that moving indoors had a noticeable effect on the reliability of certain UK voice networks.

1 in every 14 test calls GWS made using devices locked to the EE network failed inside houses, EE and 3’s voice networks were the least reliable of those it tested. EE’s recent attempts to get more of its subscribers to use ‘voice-over-WiFi’ calling suggests that it may already be aware of the reliability issues revealed by GWS’ collection programme.

By way of contrast, O2’s voice network blocked less than 1% of calls during testing, while Vodafone’s blocked and dropped only 1% of calls.

GWS’ engineering-level testing: UK homes slam the door on 4G signal

GWS’ testing programme suggests that all of the big 4 UK operators are having problems extending their 4G/LTE networks into British homes.

3 had 4G for 78% of the time testing outside properties – but only 55% of the time inside. GWS was on 4G with EE almost 100% of the time when testing outdoors – but only 85% of the time when testing indoors.

O2 achieved the best in-home 4G penetration 90% of the time spent testing inside Londoners’ homes. Vodafone was the next best performer with 4G 87% of the time.

Finally across all networks GWS discovered that your kitchen is likely to be the room with the worst room of the house for 4G penetration.

Whilst the comprehensive testing in London is interesting, the capital is probably one of the best areas of the country for mobile signals. If calls drop and 4G is unreliable to the extent revealed by GWS in London, it’s probably much worse across the rest of the country. The best short term fix appears to be get out into your garden, which in a lovely sunny June is a great excuse, but not quite as welcome in a freezing cold January.


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