/ Technology

No service: is mobile coverage meeting your expectations?

Most of us are increasingly dependent on our mobile phones – Ofcom has found that 78% of us could not live without our smartphone, but is the signal you’re getting good enough?

We want to have good quality mobile coverage wherever we are, at home, work, outside, or on the move.

While the coverage of 4G mobile networks has increased over the past year, there are still many areas of the UK that experience no coverage, or only have coverage from some (not all) of the mobile network operators.

As you’d expect, it is a particular issue in rural areas and while on the move, but it can also prove to be a problem in some urban areas.

Ofcom plans

Ofcom is looking at measures to improve coverage in those areas that don’t have mobile coverage. However, these measures will only go so far to address the issue. It will be up to the government to decide what further steps should be taken to achieve near-universal mobile coverage across the UK.

When we have a connection, the quality of it is important too, so that we can quickly and easily send messages, stream music and watch videos on the move – this can often become a problem when many users try to use the network at the same time, such as when you’re at a busy train station.

Network congestion

This network congestion means that we can experience slower data speeds, meaning it takes longer to upload Instagram photos or download emails.

We’d like to hear your experiences ahead of Ofcom’s consultations; have you experienced problems when you are using your phone, such as being unable to make calls, send texts or emails, or make use of apps such as Facebook or Instagram?

How did the problem affect you – for example, did it stop you getting in contact with family and friends, or being able to work on the move?

Please do not post your exact address or full postcode when commenting. Thanks.

Comments
Mags says:
4 December 2018

Little or no cover in many areas in Cornwall causing frustration re failed communications. Time they got it sorted

C> Ewing says:
4 December 2018

KA23 9Land KA24 5- rubbish cover for most networks except ee. Broadband is also very poor. Detrimental effects for business and individuals. It’s like living in a backward state. Needs urgent attention.

Sue Henson says:
4 December 2018

Very poor reception in our area of West Oxfordshire, and all around Oxford. No reception at all in our house, Witney area, and similar for most locals. Plus surrounding area not good.

Hi Sue, sorry to hear you have such bad phone signal in your area and towns and villages close by. I work on Which?’s Freedom to Pay campaign and am trying to find out if people with low mobile signal also struggle to use online banking, or receive texts to authorise payments etc. Is that the case for you? Morgan

Stephen Shaw says:
4 December 2018

Mid Wales. We lived for years with no home phone due to zero internet, 3 worked well for a while with tethering but then the service slowed and kept cutting off even with mobile wi-fi..£ is no longer an option for date. Coverage in Cornwall was terrible with 3 for both phone and data… Vodofone in mid wales for data works well but more than 50gb is expensive for home broadband.. We now have fibre though stuck in a monopoly with BT who has blocked all other isp’s from access forcing us to pay extortionate prices..

Stephen what you dont know is that BT MUST allow access to its network for other ISP,s,but-
When a new estate is built BT asks other iSP.s to contribute to the cabinets/ducting/cable etc —they all refuse .
As a result BT has the legal right to refuse access to other ISP,s , the very same thing applies to other ISP,s and many refuse BT access .
Virgin Media are privileged in that they can refuse anybody access to their network.

The reason that Virgin Media are in that privileged position is because all their infrastructure was provided using private capital, not at public expense. VM managed to get hold of many of the cable TV companies, whose prospects had been killed off at an early stage by satellite broadcasting, and then use the sophisticated new cabling and ductwork to make direct connexions to people’s homes.

They were really only interested in densely developed urban areas where their ducts already pass a high ratio of frontages per kilometre. They weren’t particularly interested in high rise residential buildings even though economical cable routing is usually possible because they perceived that (a) landlords would require 100% provision where only 10% uptake was likely, (b) that the billing default rate would be excessive, and (c) that the customer turnover level would be too high. By later investing in TV content rather than network extension they consolidated their position and made very good profits.

Virgin Media are currently rolling out a £4 billion superfast broadband network across the UK but it will no doubt continue to be selective as to its reach.

Barry Thompson says:
4 December 2018

Vodaphone reception is very good in West Windsor, Berks (SL4) but almost non existent in a village in West Yorkshire, Thornton in Craven which I visit several times a year. Places nearby such as Skipton don’t seem to have a problem, I presume it’s because Thornton is down dale! (In a dip)

ruth jordan says:
4 December 2018

I live on Isle of Purbeck Dorset. Mobile coverage is often very poor away from Swanage. Out on coast path towards St Aldhems Head and Worth Matravers with EE there is nothing or else a welcome to France message. Texts sometimes take a very long time to get delivered

Hi Ruth, I work on Which?’s Freedom to Pay campaign and am trying to find out if people with low mobile signal also struggle to use online banking, or receive texts to authorise payments etc. Is that the case for you? Morgan

Val B says:
4 December 2018

I live just outside London and yet we cannot have more than 1 laptop on at a time. It’s shocking that this providers earn so much from all of the customers, yet they ignore the plight of a lot of us. I have switched with many providers but still have very little reception.

Hi Val, is this an issue for your mobile phone signal as well as slow internet speeds? I work on Which?’s Freedom to Pay campaign and am trying to find out if people with low mobile signal also struggle to use online banking, or receive texts to authorise payments etc. Is that the case for you? Morgan

Graham Martin says:
4 December 2018

4G networks grind to a halt in York City Centre most weekends. Switching to 3G improves matters, but also jams up whenever town is busy, which is probably half of all Saturdays. This time of year, we lose data connectivity any day of the week with the Christmas shopping crowds. Our house in YO26 4 isn’t immune, as we keep losing phonecalls midway through, as if we were on a train.

I should also add that friends on Vodafone report that data connectivity can be non-existent in the city centre.

Ruth Cox says:
4 December 2018

We live in Worcestershire, near Bromsgrove, and mobile coverage here is generally fine. We don’t do any streaming or play mega games, and broadband is OK.

BB7 EE used to have the best signal here , hence the whole household on EE . We are currently stuck in a long NO SERVICE situation which has been going on for days and is not expected to be resolved until the next 24 hrs . This happens frequently , and have just discovered that according to your signal check , EE has nt got any coverage now , it’s white , the only option now appears to be vodaphone ?!

(Edited by moderators: For your own safety, we do not allow users to give out or solicit any kind of personal contact information or anything that would enable another forum user to find out who/where you are)

Thomas Jones says:
4 December 2018

Absolutely terrible service around the Pickering area in Yorkshire.

peter smith says:
5 December 2018

I live in a semi rural area, I am on giff gaff through the O2 network, internet very intermittent and in doors it really non existent thank god for Wi-Fi In doors

Hi Peter, am I right that you say you aren’t getting any phone signal indoors and get a bit outdoors? I work on Which?’s Freedom to Pay campaign and am trying to find out if people with low mobile signal also struggle to use online banking, or receive texts to authorise payments etc. Is that the case for you? Morgan

Norma poole says:
5 December 2018

My area in Leicestershire (LE10) is very hit and miss despite numerous complaints.

B Shad says:
5 December 2018

I have variable signal on giffgaff in cotford st Luke Somerset. I have very poor signal on Vodafone with my work phone in cotford st Luke’s Somerset which made it difficult to work from home.

Mary Auckland says:
5 December 2018

The signal in Nottingham is fine. On many train lines, even main lines, there is often no 4G signal and often no 3G either. The same is true in many parts of Scotland and rural places throughout the UK where people go walking. These are the very places where a signal would be invaluable and may even save lives

Emma says:
5 December 2018

LE8 a small area of our estate where we live is called a black area for signal. Best is Vodafone but still limited, people of often call me and can’t get through. All the providers still try to sell to you and are not honest about coverage. My work phone is EE which rarely gets any signal so makes it difficult to work from home. I have had to reinstate a landline which is frustrating

Cynthia Blackhurst says:
5 December 2018

I live half mile from a research centre on mobile phone communications but mobile phone coverage from “three” is poor in my house. I often have to go into the front garden to receive a signal. It has meant I have not received texts re meeting times etc. In some cases they have arrived 2 days later.

Hi Cynthia, this situation sounds incredibly frustrating and ironic considering how close you are to a mobile phone communications research centre! I work on Which?’s Freedom to Pay campaign and am trying to find out if people with low mobile signal also struggle to use online banking, or receive texts to authorise payments etc. Is that the case for you? Morgan

Karin says:
5 December 2018

I have tried Vodaphone, EE and Tesco and the coverage is poor with all of them. Messages don’t come through, phone calls are constantly cut off. My daughter was involved in an accident and nobody could get in touch because the mobile simply did not pick up the signal. The message finally arrived late afternoon after several hours. It is worrying that one cannot be contacted in an emergency and it is not good enough.

Karin,s post is typical of many here in communication in times of emergency nowadays with the removal of the more reliable Red phone boxes ,especially in remote areas can and will result in human death and suffering .
Of course this was known by the government but what is human life against massive mobile profits and cell-phone profits urged on by those who benefit greatly from it ?
Where reception is most needed is usually where there is no signal like mountain rescue / rescue by sea /caves etc .
Why not then provide the availability in cases like that of Satellite phones . why should it be all our security services/military/navy /etc have those and the public having to pay a high price for usage ?
Make them available only with access to emergency services -read-taken from Wiki-

Most mobile telephone networks operate close to capacity during normal times, and large spikes in call volumes caused by widespread emergencies often overload the systems when they are needed most. Examples reported in the media where this has occurred include the 1999 İzmit earthquake, the September 11 attacks, the 2006 Kiholo Bay earthquake, the 2003 Northeast blackouts, Hurricane Katrina,[30] the 2007 Minnesota bridge collapse, the 2010 Chile earthquake, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Reporters and journalists have also been using satellite phones to communicate and report on events in war zones such as Iraq.

Terrestrial cell antennas and networks can be damaged by natural disasters. Satellite telephony can avoid this problem and be useful during natural disasters. Satellite phone networks themselves are prone to congestion as satellites and spot beams cover a large area with relatively few voice channels.

DerekP says:
5 December 2018

Duncan, are you saying that satellite phones don’t work or aren’t allowed in the UK?

Neither Derek but have you checked the price to run them ?
I was putting a hypothetical point that as anything up to 10 % of the population and a much higher area percentage will have no or little access to cell-net use and many posters in this convo have brought up the subject of no RF reception in remote/rural and even in towns & cities but its the rural and remote who will suffer as those in towns and cities can access a signal by moving around, not so in those isolated areas .

Iridium phones provide emergency services but sat phones cost much more in calls/minute price as you are taking up bandwidth space on those small satellites .

Yes there are some countries they are banned in but not so far in the UK.
Its possible to hack them but GCHQ/NSA dont have direct snooping abilities on them , I am not saying it cant be done though .

DerekP says:
6 December 2018

Duncan, thanks for the clarification.

Perhaps anyone who is struggling with poor cell phone cover would do better to spend their available dosh on sat phones instead of fruity fashion accessories.

I used to know a ferry pilot – a sat phone was part of his essential kit for international travel.

Hi Karin, this sounds like a very worrying situation. It’s very worrying that you weren’t able to receive the information about your daughter quickly. I work on Which?’s Freedom to Pay campaign and am trying to find out if people with low mobile signal also struggle to use online banking, or receive texts to authorise payments etc. Is that the case for you? Morgan

Penny says:
5 December 2018

The Lake District has patchy reception especially in bad weather. I’m with Vodafone and it has its moments!. The rescue teams in this area suffer from some people thinking that having a mobile phone on them is sufficient for their safety should they get into difficulties, including thinking that it will provide sufficient light should they be benighted! Can’t blame the mobile providers for that sort of problem!

Judy says:
5 December 2018

12 miles from Gatwick and very poor ranging to no signel whatever provider you use, beyond disgusting. Time the government insisted on better service with penalties for non compliance

Hi Judy, it sounds like your signal is pretty bad. I work on Which?’s Freedom to Pay campaign and am trying to find out if people with low mobile signal also struggle to use online banking, or receive texts to authorise payments etc. Is that the case for you? Morgan