/ Technology

Bad phone signal at home – can you cancel your contract?

What happens if you’ve got rubbish mobile phone signal at home, but you’re locked into a one- or two-year contract? Is it easy to cancel? No, as many of the stories shared on last week’s BBC Watchdog showed.

For many of us, mobile phones are attached to us like another limb. They’ve become essential for organising our lives – whether it’s keeping in touch with friends and family or for making those dreaded work calls.

But however much you use it, the least you’d expect is to have a working phone signal at home. But that’s not always the case, as James told us on Twitter:

Most providers have a mobile coverage checker to see if you’ll get a good signal in your home or at work. This is something Vodafone advises:

‘We would always advise customers to check the coverage for the locations that are important to them before taking out an agreement with us or any other operator. They can check Vodafone coverage online using our network and coverage checker.

‘New Vodafone customers can also test their coverage over their first two-week period with us and return the phone to us, without any fuss, if they find the coverage isn’t satisfactory for their needs.’

You can also check the 3G and 4G signal for each of the main mobile providers in your area with our mobile coverage map.

Only getting signal in your garden

But what if your signal goes Pete Tong well into your contract? That’s what happened to Catherine Pugh, who shared her story on BBC Watchdog.

She’d been with Orange for years with perfect signal, until it started to go bad. In order to speak to someone she had to go outside to sit on a bench in her garden and point her mobile in the right direction. Catherine tried to get out of her contract, but was told she’d have to pay a £200 termination fee.

It turned out one of the phone masts in her area had been decommissioned and through perseverance she was able to get out of her contract. Orange told BBC Watchdog:

‘We look into each signal issue on its own merits but if it’s not possible to restore service, as is the case with Ms Pugh, we will release a customer from their contract.’

If you get a sustained and prolonged lack of service you may have a chance of getting out of your contract – you can read up on this in our consumer rights guide. It’s certainly not easy. So does something need to be done?

Ofcom and bad phone signal

Ofcom has said it’s supporting initiatives to improve mobile phone coverage, and recognises that it’s an issue the networks need to sort. It’s also providing people with better information on the quality of service they can get from each provider, so you can make better choices. But could it be doing more?

Should mobile providers be more upfront about your rights to cancel if you get poor signal? Have you tried to get out of your contract for persistent signal problems at home or at work? What happened? We’ll then share your comments with Ofcom.

Comments
Member

It’s about time we get rid of two year contracts and move to monthly rolling contracts that can be cancelled if there is a problem with the service provider, whether it is poor signal or unexpected price rises.

Though I always have a mobile signal in my home, the quality varies and I have no intention of giving up my landline.

Member
Andrew says:
24 October 2014

Monthly rolling contracts exist already, but if you want a phone with it then how else do you expect to pay for the device?

Member

I appreciate that these contracts are already available, and they would be more competitive if more people used them. It’s possible to buy phones, and that’s what I’ve always done.

Member

Andrew – why not pay for the device just like any other consumer product? When buying a television, you don’t expect Sky or Television Licensing to supply your television on a subsidised basis. When buying a laptop, you don’t expect your ISP to supply your laptop on a subsidised basis. So why do this with a mobile phone? Just buy the phone like any other product and pay for the service separately. This straightforward approach nearly always works out cheaper than a bundled phone and service contract, and the difference is most noticeable with iPhones.

Member
r angus says:
26 October 2014

take control
make your case
if its reasonable and they do not listen to your reason, cancel the d/d
yes its not ideal, but I’m sick of pandering to the likes of mobile ph company’s and banks and ins compnays.
let them pursue you for a return to your uninterrupted , easy money, d/d,
why is it that people settle for interruption whilst giving uninterrupted money by d/d?
take charge, sort them out, u can sort ur credit out later

Member

After 15 years as a happy Orange customer, deterioration of the network made the service unusable much of the time, so I switched to giffgaff at the beginning of this year, which operates on the O2 network.

After Orange UK and T-Mobile UK merged and introduced free roaming between the two networks in late 2010, customers of both networks enjoyed improved coverage, i.e. two networks instead of one previously. However, soon after the rebranding to EE in late 2012 along with closer integration of the two legacy networks, EE started decommissioning thousands of transmitters, supposedly where it had duplicate coverage from the two legacy networks. However, not only did it remove duplicate coverage but it also removed coverage that existed before the merger, creating new coverage blackspots which never existed previously.

Consumers should stop signing up to 12-month and 24-month contracts. Get a 1-month SIM-only contract instead and buy the phone separately; this costs much less in the long run.

Member
r angus says:
26 October 2014

dont think buying the phone is the answer unless u r happy with a 3 or 4 yr old ph.
if u want the best it has to be on a contract
a contract is 2 way though and no service means u should not pay them and so if interruptions continue or u receive continual bad service from cust service then surely u can stop paying to show u mean business and u can correct any alleged bad payer criticism later
take the elad do not suffer, its a 2 way contract, if they break, in your opinion, penalise and take the lead
say u can pay and will pay for the promised service of both good signal and good customer service
that is what u likely signed up for

Member

r angus, how did you arrive at “dont think buying the phone is the answer unless u r happy with a 3 or 4 yr old ph. if u want the best it has to be on a contract“? This is totally false. Take the following examples:

1. iPhone 6 64GB bought from Apple for £619 + Three’s SIM-only charge of £25 x 24 months (12 month minimum contract) for unlimited calls, texts and data. Total cost over 24 months = £1,219.

2. iPhone 6 64GB supplied under 24-month contract by Three with £99 upfront cost + £50 x 24 months for unlimited calls, texts and data. Total cost over 24 months = £1,299.

The second subsidy method of purchase costs £80 more in total but it also ties you in for 24 months instead of only 12 months and the phone will be SIM-locked to Three, meaning that you can’t switch networks as easily or use local SIM cards abroad. And if a consumer can’t afford £619 upfront, then it would be cheaper to get a loan from Apple at 14.9% APR. It’s a similar story with other networks, but I picked Three because its web site is easier to navigate in order to look up the charges. Those who acquire their mobile phones from networks should think twice about the expensive disguised loan they are signing up to. It’s far better to buy a mobile phone outright in the same way as any other product, like a television or laptop.

Member

So that’s why my partner’s previously good signal with T-Mobile has deteriorated to the point of uselessness lately! He has to stand next to the window to send a text and if anyone tries to ring him on his nobile, he tells them to ring back on the landline because otherwise he gets cut off mid-conversation. We were baffled when the ‘double network’ turned out worse than before, now we know what the sneaky beggars are up to!

Member

Try and get a free booster from the telco

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
24 October 2014

Vodafone’s advice is good, but always have a landline and a corded phone. It’s a health and safety matter. You never know when you’re going to have to dial 999.

Member

I moved home recently and I now have no landline, just a one gigabit broadband connection and my iPhone. I have maximum signal strength on O2, Vodafone, EE and Three. Paying £120 per year for a landline is a waste of money, especially just for 999 calls that can be made as reliably from my iPhone.

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
24 October 2014

In the event of power cut or a flat battery or a loss of signal, you can still dial from a landline (loss of landline is less likely than any of the above nowadays). OK, you may never need to, but the point is, you never know.

Member

I still don’t accept this rationale for paying £120 per year for a redundant landline. In the 20 years that I’ve had a mobile phone, I’ve never run out of battery. And should there be a power cut, I also have two USB power packs that hold enough power to charge 7 iPhones in a row, which I use on flights that don’t have power sockets. The chances of running out of battery are nil. And should the O2 network go down, then I have SIM cards for the other three networks.

Member

You obviously live in a good signal area, NFH. Many of us don’t, which is why we are having this Conversation.

Several years ago, a friend decided that he would not get a landline when he bought a holiday flat and was planning to get rid of the landline from his home. He still has his landline at home and now has one in the flat too.

Member
David says:
25 October 2014

My best mate was in the same smug position up until earlier this year, when he suffered from the decomissioning of the transmitter covering his entire area east of Warrington. He now has no mobile coverage at home, even out of doors, and due to no land line it’s proving to be a nightmare getting hold of him. In the past few months it’s already caused several minor emergencies due to different family members not knowing what’s going on. Younger members of the family seem to have no concept of planning and sticking to it, something the older generation did automatically – the ability to just call or text from anywhere didn’t exist in our day.

Member

@David:
Has your mate tried Vodafone in his area? Their coverage map doesn’t show any blind-spots east of Warrington – not even in the river valley.

Member
David says:
26 October 2014

Coverage maps lie, a lot. Once you’re not in a major urban area they really are useless for giving an accurate picture. For example, O2 at home for me shows good coverage. Seems to depend which way the wind’s blowing as far as I can tell. My phone(s) will often deny there’s any network on the face of the planet for 5+ minutes, and then suddenly I get a bar or two of signal. Where my sister is in Suffolk O2 and Vodafone claim complete coverage, which is utter dross. Nothing for at least a mile or two in most directions. In one direction towards Bury St Edmunds we can drive for almost 8 miles checking several phones before anyone gets a signal.
My mate has tried SIMs for all the major networks, out of desperation, but they’re all pretty much useless.

Member

@David: “Coverage maps lie”

Fair enough – I do tend to be too trusting sometimes ……

Maybe your mate could try to get a free booster? I’ve heard tell of folk who have knowingly walked into a Vodafone store, asked about coverage and signed up for 12 months. They then go back the next day and demand a free booster and an engineer to install it.

Of course, I couldn’t possibly condone such behaviour.

Member

@NFH:

Just to really safe, you should check where all your cellphone masts are located.
If they are all on the same shared site, a power cut will wipe you out completely.

Member

@bib1:

My nearest O₂ transmitters are on the O₂. There are plenty of others nearby too on both sides of the Thames.

Member

@NFH:

Wow! Now that’s what I call coverage to die for! And a Gigabit stream ….

For obvious privacy reasons, don’t take this too seriously but … I think I’ll pitch me tent on yer front lawn …. please?

Member

@bib1:

You’ll also be impressed with the location of my other nearby O₂ transmitter – on the roof of Telehouse, which houses LINX (London Internet Exchange), where over 500 ISPs connect to each other. My previous home had coverage problems on all mobile networks, so I’m really appreciating the difference now.

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
3 November 2014

Howsabout we all campaign for the possibility of having a line at home that can dial 999 and only 999 without having to pay for it?

Member

Sophie – I was thinking about your earlier post about power cuts when mine went off for well over an hour last week. The mobile was dead too.

After setting sorting out the emergency lighting I use during power cuts, I used a corded phone to ring some friends.

Member

This page seems to discuss legal issues. It is well known that the mobile telephone companies have sharp lawyers who produce contracts and terms that are no doubt perfectly legal but defy most consumers’ sense of ethics, justice or fair play.

However there is an engineering solution to the problem of poor or weak signals at home or indeed any premises. That is to buy a mobile booster system. They cost of the order of £100, but it is a one off payment. There seem to be lots on the market and a Which? best buy report on their quality and efficacy would seem a good idea. There is already
http://blogs.which.co.uk/technology/phone-networks/poor-mobile-reception-why-a-signal-booster-might-help/

It is best to get one with a Yagi aerial. Find out where your local mast is for the service you use, and use Google Earth to get a bearing on it. Install the Yagi aerial to point at the mast. If you are lucky it may work in your loft, but if not try putting it behind the barge board around the bottom of the loft where the signal will be less affected by tiles or loft insulation if it is the silver coloured type. Otherwise you have to fit it outside.

Run the supplied cable from the Yagi to somewhere near the middle of the loft where you should position the booster, and the low voltage cable from the booster to the plug top power supply. Switch on, enjoy a good signal, and forget it.

Make sure that the power supply isn’t near any combustible material so in the unlikely event of it going wrong it won’t cause a fire.

We used the
BLACKBOX GSM Mobile Phone Signal Booster
which did the trick for us.

Member

What’s the basic method of these signal boosters?
I presume they receive a radio signal, amplify it and re-transmit it.
Do they do this for all mobile signals or is one product ‘tuned’ to one provider?

In practical terms, what I’m asking is – will one booster work for two phones – one Vodafone, one Virgin?

Member

I am not exactly sure, and the model we have doesn’t seem to be available, at least not form the website where we bought it. I suspect that the answer is “yes”, but it would be wise to be sure, ie ask the vendor. There seems to be a lot available now, and at a much lower price as well. I have even seen examples for around £30.

Of course they have to receive and transmit both ways, both from the consumer and from the mast. There should be an additional advantage in that the telephone instrument doesn’t have to transmit at a high power to get the signal to the mast, only enough to the repeater. Although the repeater may well be sending the full 4W, it isn’t right next to someone’s head.

Remember that mobile telephony was designed for short messages, like “I’ll be half an hour late” not the half hour sessions of small talk that many people seem to use them for these days.

Member
Ethics matter says:
27 November 2014

You mention the issue of contracts and I agree and see this issue raised on many consumer related sites where consumers feel they have been deceived and trapped into contracts and have little support from customer services when dealing with mobile companies. Please could Which take simplifying cancellation of contracts on as a campaign?
I am reasonably sensible with consumer issues but have been trapped for a year trying to deal with vodafone even though I cancelled my contract bought online within 7 days . I thought this was my legal right but it seems I have no rights where vodafone are concerned

Member

The solution to poor signal at home is a femtocell. Vodafone charge for one (£70 when I bought one) and Three gave me one for nothing when I complained about the signal.

Member

Agree:
Some of the boosters available to buy (or are provided free) reroute the call via your boradband connection, they have to be activated with a list of mobile phone numbers to be used and are obviously locked to 1 mobile network.

“3” mobile now provide an app – Three in touch – which will reroute mobile calls and texts via a local wifi network. It doesnt switch between wifi and mobile network automatically unfortunately but it works and is useful.
Other mobile network providers are rumoured to be testing similar apps.

Choice of network can be problematic – do you want good reception at home or when you are at work or out in another area ?

Member

Why should a customer have to buy a femtocell when the network deliberately removes transmitters? At least when I was on an Orange business tariff, Orange gave me a femtocell (“Siginal Box”) for free, but that didn’t help restore coverage in all the other places away from home where EE had removed transmitters, so I still switched to giffgaff. Femtocells should be the exception and not the rule.

Member

As I work from home & have broadband I use an internal aerial (femtocell) which works beautifuilly. No more standing outside in the rain. As I live in the countryside with lots of trees around I half expect a poor signal.

Member

Regarding the petition to unlock phones for free. Fine after the end of the contact, but during – that’s unreasonable. The petition needs to be worded better.

Member

“If your ordered your phone online, you can cancel under the Consumer Contracts Regulations within 14 days”.

These are not my words – they are right here on Which?.
http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/i-want-to-cancel-my-mobile-phone-contract-early/?gclid=CKW38c-CyMECFYrjwgodchoATA

Hope that helps.

If you’re worried about getting a poor signal at home, work or play – buy online and test it out in the first couple of weeks.

Member
Ethics matter says:
27 November 2014

Regarding cancellation , I wish this were true, my experience with Vodafone does not bear this out ( I am one year on trying still to resolve this) . I thought I was within my rights to cancel an online order within seven days but an ombudsman judgement does not seem to support this ? Could an ombudsman judgement be incorrect?

Member

It’s covered in the Distance Selling Regulations, sounds to me as though the Ombudsman might be incorrect in law.

Member

And …. in case the web link is not allowed here, you can find the Which? page thru Google:

Right to cancel mobile phone contract which Consumer Contracts Regulations

Enjoy.

Member

We have used Orange for years. At first the signal was excellent and we could get a signal when our neighbours could not. After Orange joined up with EE, we could hardly ever get a signal at home, nor in our immediate local area. We have been unable to contact anyone who can tell us why.

Member
David says:
26 October 2014

Simple answer is they’ve probably ‘rationalised’ the base station coverage near you and decided they don’t need one or more towers any more. Same has happened to a friend of mine – now has no coverage at home and he’d just taken out a 24 month contract only 2 months before.

Member

I don’t understand why people take out 24-month contracts any more; they are no longer necessary. Nevertheless the network should provide at least the same level of coverage at the beginning of the contract for the duration of the contract. If the network deliberately removes transmitters (in order to save themselves money), then the consumer should be able to exit without penalty. Then the network can take a calculated decision of the cost saving of removing transmitters versus the cost of losing contracted customers.

Member

One reason why people take out contracts is that they don’t pay anything like as much as the advertised price.

I bought a phone and called my service provider for my PAC code so that I could move to a SIM-only plan with another company. They asked why I was leaving and I explained about the shabby way they and other service providers were treating their customers in increasing prices mid-contract. I was offered a half-price contract for a year, which was better than any monthly rolling contract on a SIM-only plan. I insisted that the monthly price would not be increased within the year and have this in writing.

Member

Wavechange – I think it’s a matter of education. Even posts above in this thread suggest that many consumers believe that the only way to acquire a new phone is a long-term contract with a network. Perhaps Which could do a better job of educating consumers that it’s cheaper and more beneficial for consumers to buy the goods and service separately, and to show lots more examples like the one I quoted above with Three.

I would like to see unbundling of the goods and the service to promote competition and transparency. We need an end to the cost of mobile phones being subsidised by monthly charges because this:
– Encourages consumers to acquire handsets they cannot truly afford through an unhealthy “buy now pay later” consumer debt culture with a disguised loan from the mobile network.
– Distorts competition by disguising the true price of the handset and of the service, as opposed to a SIM-free handset and SIM-only service.
– Encourages wasteful acquisition of new handsets because consumers mistakenly believe they are receiving the handset for free or for very little.
– Necessitates long contract durations in order to spread the cost of the handset, which inhibits competition by preventing consumers from switching networks.
– Causes consumers to continue paying the inflated monthly charge even after they have paid off the subsidy of the handset, unless they remember to take action at the end of the minimum contract period.

Subsidised handsets are usually SIM-locked which:
– Inhibits competition by making it more difficult to switch networks.
– Prevents consumers from using local SIM cards abroad, allowing UK networks to impose unreasonably high roaming charges by excluding foreign competition.

For these reasons, Ofcom should encourage unsubsidised SIM-free handsets and competitive SIM-only contracts to become the norm, as is common in many other countries. At the very least, networks should be forced to unbundle the monthly handset subsidy repayment and the monthly charge for service (as O₂ has started doing), itemising the two separately with independent contract durations and an APR for the loan (as giffgaff is doing). The monthly handset subsidy repayment should not be allowed to continue after the cost of the handset has been paid off.

Member

NFH – I am 100% behind your reasoning but since most people buy contracts providing a phone, the market is highly competitive in the UK and the contracts are more cost effective if you are offered a good deal. A friend went through the options of buying an iPhone in the summer and taking advantage of a generous two year contract from her existing provider was clearly better than buying the phone and service separately.

So we can agree on our aims but discounts make the market more complex than it should be.

There are so many ways that mobile suppliers are treating their customers appallingly. According to my company’s network coverage map, I should be able to use 4G outside in a village that I visit weekly. Sometimes I can’t even make a phone call, so for years I have carried a PAYG phone on another network. In addition to specifying minutes, text and data, the companies should give details about tethering. I’ve known that some allowances don’t even allow tethering but some people are caught out by this.

Member

We take the view that the network service, calls / data and handset purchase elements of a mobile contract (whilst potentially bundled together) should be separated.

It is reasonable to enter into a two year agreement to finance the purchase of a handset through monthly instalments, if that is what a customer wants. Whilst a provider may wish to offer a discount on its network based services to handset customers, there must be proper competitive market for these services.

Separating calls from network service is the other issue that has been pending since the programme of progressively reducing the termination fees began. We are now close to the point where the caller will not be paying for the service being enjoyed by the person receiving their call. Who then will be paying for incoming calls to a “free sim”?

This is now a mature industry, but it still operates on the same basis that was required in its infancy. Measuring the quality of service delivered to customers on the basis of the percentage of the country where one can get a signal no longer makes any sense. There is a lot of growing up to do!

Member

“We are now close to the point where the caller will not be paying for the service being enjoyed by the person receiving their call. Who then will be paying for incoming calls to a “free sim”? – This is indeed worrying. I hope we never have to adopt the North American model whereby mobile customers pay for all incoming calls, either incrementally or through a monthly charge. Hopefully in the UK the number of mobile customers who only receive calls is too low for the networks to change the existing model.

Member

Most of the calls i get I don’t want so I hope I’m not going to end up paying for them!

Member

Good point, John Ward. For this reason, many Americans are reluctant, compared to those in the rest of the world, to give their mobile numbers to companies.

Member

I personally cannot see us ever getting into the situation where we pay per minute to receive calls on mobile phones. (Yes, you can quote me if it happens!)

The principle of a fixed “line rental” (now excluding rental of the handset) has long been established for landlines. On top of this we now pay for all of our ordinary calls through a Call Plan – we are very foolish if we choose to incur the very high “penalty charges” for non-inclusive calls to ordinary numbers. The same principle for paying for originated calls applies to mobiles, also texts and data usage.

I see no reason why the “line rental” principle should not apply to mobiles. This would enable the quality and extent of service offered to be clearly seen, also providing a simple opportunity for a refund in the event of the service not being provided. Whilst the terms of this could perhaps be linked to an overall commercial offering, including handset purchase and a call plan, I believe that it needs to be seen to exist separately.

(I recognise that having raised this idea in these columns, Which? will be in a position to take full credit for it.)

Member

David – How would you suggest that Three’s prepaid 3-2-1 plan would work under your proposals for “line rental”? Three charges 3p/min, 2p/text and 1p/MB with no periodic charge. As Three has proven, there’s no reason for non-bundled calls to cost a lot. Why can’t every network operate on this model, whereby prepaid and postpaid consumers pay only for the quantity consumed? Imagine if we had to pay for gas or electricity by buying bundles, guessing how much we will use each month and then wasting part of the bundle that we don’t use. We wouldn’t tolerate bundles with energy, so why do we tolerate them with mobile phone services?

Member

Bundles are very good value IF you use them up every month (which most people don’t); for the network provider they are a good sale because most people do NOT use them up !!
I agree Three’s 321 plan is excellent for low usage or very variable usage consumers and with Three’s innovative Overseas usage schemes in some countries and automatic connection over Wifi well worth considering .
I’m lucky to be able to splash out and buy a mobile outright but many seem unwilling or unable to fund this large a purchase which doesnt provide a huge saving over a contract unless you go for a refurbished phone.

Member

@David – fair telecoms campaign: “We are now close to the point where the caller will not be paying for the service being enjoyed by the person receiving their call”

I love the words “… enjoyed by the person receiving their call …”.

Take a look at all the forum discussions about scam cold-callers and remember the words “… enjoyed by …”.

Member

The question of whether, in general terms, services should be charged for on the basis of usage is an interesting one. Energy remains set, but arguments rage over many.

Telecoms, in relation to “ordinary” calls (also SMS and data), has changed over the last 10 years or so to a situation where most offerings do not charge directly per “call” but offer bands on a monthly basis. In some cases these may be limited by aggregate duration, or time of day, but happily this removes the concept of a ticking meter from us when we are speaking to someone or looking up something on the web and obviates the need for a character count when composing a SMS message.

I recognise that narrow-minded committed consumerists are likely to demand that everything is charged for only on the basis of the precise benefit received, at rates negotiated by equally empowered parties. My belief is that most people want to make decisions about the services available to them, and the expenditure required, from time to time – not invariably at the point of consumption. The concept of fairness can be seen in wider terms, as well as when looking at each individual component of a transaction. (I do know that I am on foreign territory when making these points on the Which? website.)

I also recognise that some may not wish to have the benefit of continual network coverage so as to be able to receive incoming calls – I see no reason why “outgoing only” mobile lines could not be offered. There may also be some who would be content to only pay for those calls that they happen to be able to make, because they find themselves in an area where coverage is found. These are all fairly made points.

Member

We seem to be well off the topic of whether we can cancel a contract because of poor signal. 🙂

However, it’s good to see some discussion of what is fair. Is it fair that someone calling a mobile phone from a landline should pay much greater charges to call mobiles compared with landlines? One of the reasons I have a landline is out of courtesy to other landline users.

Member

My point is that the contract for provision of signal should be able to be separated from contracts for the purchase of a handset and a bundle of calls. This would enable discussion of issues of coverage to be separated from those about other issues.

The arrangement whereby those who call to mobiles effectively meet the cost of network coverage, to enable receipt of calls, was perhaps seen as right and necessary to get the mobile networks up and running, as it kept down the cost to mobile users themselves. I agree with Ofcom that the world has moved on from this situation and fairness must be applied properly.

I disagree with the consumerists who would argue that mobile users should pay to receive calls – but only those that they want to receive. I nonetheless think it is fair for mobile users to be in an arrangement that offers network coverage for a fee. This could be combined with other services, e.g. calls, data and handset purchase, but should be able to be seen independently and obviously subject to cancellation or refund in cases where the service is not being delivered.

Member

David I agree about separation of mobile and airtime purchase.
While at present there are options for:
Buying the Phone with 1 cash payment
Buying Airtime by iteself ( SIM only)
Buying the Phone + Airtime together in monthly installments
There is no (widespread) option to buy Phone by itself in monthly installments.
It is this missing option which I feel causes many of the issues and problems discussed.

OT with the spread of fibre broadband the market is moving backwards towards bundling phoneline and broadband as the only option.

Member

Bad TV reception at home – can you cancel your TV licence?

Should you only pay for the TV programs you watch?

Perhaps Sainsbury’s should offer a monthly bundle – pay for the food whether or not you eat it?

Member

If television transmitters were removed giving no television reception, in the same way that EE has been removing mobile phone transmitters, then you would indeed no longer need a television licence.

Member

@NFH: “If television transmitters were removed giving no television reception ….. you would indeed no longer need a television licence”.

As the ability to receive live TV is the test for a licence, they would need to unbundle ‘television’, streaming, ect.

Member

I live in the country (certainly not isolated but poor reception). 02 coverage has deteriorated over the years. I now can only get reception in part of the house and it is spasmodic. I have to take calls on this phone for work and I am forever checking checking checking whether I have reception.

I have spoken to 02 numerous times. They suggested their TuGo app… it is not foolproof and unless you had it permanently enabled and continually draining battery 5 times as fast as normal, it didn’t ring. Not worth it. 02 say it is the phone. I changed my phone. Just as bad if not worse. I am not tied into a long contract (I buy my phones myself as opposed to part of a package). No point in changing networks as I know from neighbours, it’s just as bad for everyone. I envy those with good reception as I’ve given up and just hang the phone in different places in my house with the best chance of reception, then leg it from somewhere else in the house when it rings. And for this we pay for a contract…

Member

@HH: “No point in changing networks ….”

As you’re wise enough not to lock yourself into one network, you might like to have a look at Ofcom’s map of cell-tower locations: http://www.sitefinder.ofcom.org.uk/search

Point the map at your postcode and click on the nearest mast(s).

Check that the mast’s “Type of Transmission” matches your phone:
2G – GSM
3G – UMTS
4G – LTE

If you can see one of the masts from your (groundfloor) window, try a pay-as-you-go SIM card from that provider.

I have heard that the map isn’t 100% as it relies on input from the providers, but ….. enjoy !

Member

Maybe this is a silly question, but why is there not ONE mobile network that covers the whole country?

BT, rail, energy all share networks so why can’t the same work for mobiles?

Member

Emergency calls will be routed via other networks if your own network is not available in a location.

Network sharing would greatly improve customer satisfaction, and the companies could reimburse each other for network use as appropriate.

Member

Then maybe we would get country-wide coverage instead of the current hot-spots.

Member

What concerns me most not phone signal but not having an adequate signal for tethering to a laptop or using email/websites on my phone.

Member

The reason that we don’t have just one mobile network is because we have a free market with competition between networks. If you want one network without any competition, go to a communist country like North Korea. Although in fact North Korea has two mobile networks – one for North Koreans and another for foreigners.

Member

I am not advocating a single network, just for the network operators to cooperate to deliver a better service to all consumers.

You might have a superb service in the London area, but we need to think of the rest of the UK.

Member

Wavechange – my comment was not directed at you but at alfa who advocated one network for the whole country. I agree with your comments about sharing. This works with cash machines whereby banks pay each other when a non-customer uses their cash machine. There is no reason why something similar couldn’t be done with mobile networks.

As for your second point about coverage in the London area, don’t be misled that it is good all over London. My previous address in London had shockingly bad coverage on all networks. I therefore do really appreciate that I’m extremely lucky to have such fantastic mobile coverage and gigabit broadband in my new home.

Member

Thanks NFH. At least we have discovered that are agreed on network sharing. For years I have kept a PAYG phone on another network for use in areas without a signal.

Member

Network sharing is a really interesting idea. Do you think the infrastructure is already in place to cover all of the countryside? That’s where I get the most of my signal problems.

Member

It might be interesting to have a Conversation about what we want from our mobile phones, Alex.

Poor network coverage in rural areas is my main grouse.

Member

@alfa: I fear Dr Beeching sealed the fate of a “country-wide coverage instead of .. hot-spots”.

Member

@NFH: “If you want one network without any competition, go to a communist country like North Korea …”.

Or …. revel in the competitive market created by our energy network?

Member

NFH, my original post was badly worded as the word network can have 2 meanings when discussing mobiles.

I was suggesting a national network grid shared by all mobile network companies the same way electric companies share the national grid. If the current infrastructure was spread around instead of heavy concentration in some areas, country-wide coverage could be achievable.

Member

One downside of network sharing is that networks would no longer compete on coverage, but only on price. Three is a case in point; its prices are the lowest, but its coverage is the worst. I also remember when I was with Mercury one2one in its early days when its coverage was non-existent in many parts of the UK but its prices were very low, offering unprecedented free local calls “until pigs fly”. It was subsequently bought by Deutsche Telekom who rebranded it to T-Mobile, and following a merger with France Télécom’s Orange, it became part of EE. Price and coverage are linked. If the likes of Three have to pay other networks to fill in gaps in their coverage, they will have to raise their prices. Therefore network sharing would cause prices to converge, which would be detrimental to competition.

Member

If it would hurry things along, perhaps we could pay a small surcharge to make a call via a rival network. Network sharing is in place for emergency calls but sometimes other calls are important.

Member

I’d like a mobile phone market where handsets are normally bought outright and SIM cards are issued by parties other than the networks. Apple has already started issuing an “Apple SIM”, but only for iPads so far. With a non-network SIM card such as the Apple SIM, you can choose which network you use for your service and change it whenever you feel like it. The networks will strongly resist this for phones as opposed to tablets like the iPad that use only data. If this became the norm with phones, you would be able to choose each time you use your phone which network you use and consequently how much you pay. This would be the ultimate in competition, i.e. not switching networks every few months but every few minutes. It would also help to eliminate roaming charges because there wouldn’t be a country-specific home network, just a central international billing provider such as Apple, Google, Microsoft etc.

Member

There is only one electricity grid, but a competitive market in electricity. Ditto with water, gas and wired telephony, and terrestrial TV. The latter is particularly relevant to the question of why not one cellphone system.

An alternative is a mesh network, ie with no masts, and relying on the existence of many owners of telephone instruments that relay the traffic. Of course in remote areas people would have to put up masts, but people in remote areas who want terrestrial TV have to do that now. Once one landowner has done that, it will benefit others nearby. The absence of a central authority and leader is likely to appeal to people who chose to live in remote places.

Member

OK – stop worrying – all of our troubles are over – the Government are on the case.

Despite being very busy with the upcoming election, the Government has found time to address this issue.

Government crackdown on mobile ‘notspots’ @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29897202

Member

Also in the BBC piece (Government crackdown on mobile ‘notspots’)
www bbc co uk /news/technology-29897202

The BBC invite us to have our say:
Do you live in a ‘notspot’ area? You can share your experience by emailing haveyoursay @ bbc co uk
If you are willing to talk to a BBC journalist, please leave a contact number.

And there are some nice non-coverage maps at OpenSignal:
opensignal com /reports/2014/10/uk-networks-report/

Member
Sheila says:
14 November 2014

I had a 2 yr contract with Talk Mobile. I had a terrible signal in the home and poor intermittent service outdoors. I contacted them and made it clear that if I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome, I was prepared to go to the ombudsman. Their own website had very good instructions about what to do in these cases! They fully agreed that I was paying for something I wasn’t getting and terminated my contract without exit fee and as I had put up with the problem for longer I should have, they also gave me £50 compensation.
This was all done very amicably and I was pleased with the result.
My only issue was really with Car Phone Warehouse as they should, in my opinion have checked coverage in my area. I was able to do this mysel online and should perhaps have done more homework before taking out the contract

Member

hi, just joined the group and need some advice.
I am just coming to the end of a 12 month contract with o2, and want to change my network and contract, to a monthly one, with Sim only. I dont know if it my phone, a £100 htc bought from Tescos, or the o2 network, which is giving me slow connection to my emails, I dont download fils, or any of that, just want to check emails and use the internet, thats all. Which is the best network to use, any ideas