That's how markets work, the most return for the least investment, even if it can undermine long term viability. Regulation, enforced regulation is what will be required to change anything.
Nearly one-third of mobile users suffer poor or no indoor reception at home, according to a survey by price comparison site uSwitch. One in every five mobile calls made at home are patchy – where the voice cuts in and out – while one in six are prone to cutting out suddenly. Not surprisingly, those living in rural areas …
Wednesday 1st November 2017 10:14 GMT Ian 45
Wednesday 1st November 2017 10:18 GMT Anon
If it ain't broke...
Every time EE "upgrade" the service around me I get a more intermittent signal. It was least bad when EE was Orange and T-Mobile. I guess one "upgrade" would have been switching off one of the masts, and another would have been changing to a frequency that now barely makes into the street, let alone indoors. In a town with a population >60,000, not in some far-away rural location.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 10:21 GMT Anonymous Coward
Wednesday 1st November 2017 10:23 GMT John Lilburne
Yep mobile reception is pants in the village. I can just about get a signal in one of the bedrooms.
The power company came out about 2 years ago to install a smart meter but abandoned the installation because they couldn't get a mobile signal. Why they need a mobile signal for monitoring energy usage is any one's guess.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 14:23 GMT Anonymous Coward
Why they need a mobile signal for monitoring energy usage is any one's guess.
It's not for monitoring your usage but to allow them to switch you off remotely if the unreliables are not producing enough electricity or if you are behind in paying your bill which is too high because of the green taxes used to prop up the unreliables.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 10:25 GMT big_D
I have to set up new mobile phones for employees at work... Only the office I sit in has absolutely no mobile signal with the corporate carrier (Vodafone) - with my private carrier, Congstar on D-Netz, I get Edge in the office - which makes setting up and testing the phones awkward; trying to test the corporate E-Mail works when not on the Wi-Fi network means a trip outside the office.
It also makes configuring and testing mobile LTE hotspots difficult, there I have to traipse outside with the modem and a notebook to test it!
Wednesday 1st November 2017 10:29 GMT Anonymous Coward
This seems to be two conflated issues - asking for better idea of mobile coverage maps and poor quality indoor signal.
Unless a house survey is done or a user fills out a detailed questionnaire about their premises including construction, windows, insulation and plasterboard types then an estimate of indoor signal strength is very difficult to provide. Even estimating useable wifi in a premises is difficult without an actual survey.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 12:12 GMT katrinab
Wednesday 1st November 2017 21:59 GMT tfewster
@katrinab - Sensible, but missing the point
Why should my choices be restricted by the phone companies being stingy?
I have a perfect signal from O2 at home, due to a mast ~300M away on top of an old factory building. If that gets demolished I'm stuffed, as there are no other high points nearby. At work (on a light industry estate), O2 gives the best signal but it's still rubbish indoors.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 16:49 GMT Anonymous Coward
can generate the coverage maps with caveats aplenty
Back in the old days when I was in cellular we would generate coverage maps, and provide guidelines of "coverage indoors", "coverage inside vehicle", and "coverage on street" levels. We'd pick an average attenuation level for the map. For the first 10+ years the cellular industry had all it could do to provide outdoor coverage at the street level. People buying the new portable phones began complaining that they didn't have coverage indoors, so operators put in a lot of sites for hole-fill.
Keep in mind that there is a significant increase in loss going from the street to indoors, and it is highly frequency dependent. The high band UMTS spectrum (2 GHz) doesn't propagate well through glass and building materials. If your carrier (or if your new phone) moved from 2G (900 MHz) to 3G or 4G you may have been covered and now aren't. The propagation of 2 GHz is about 2/3rds the distance of a comparable 900 MHz signal.
Still doesn't keep people from expecting coverage in elevators or underground.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 10:48 GMT AndrueC
Mine is quite poor. With my old 3G phone it was barely usable for calls and there were times I couldn't even receive texts. It's better with 4G. It's only one bar but 4G seems more resilient and at least it's now usable. I'm not in the arse-end of nowhere either - I'm on the outskirts of a small town a couple of miles from the M40, next to the A43.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 10:52 GMT ukgnome
Wednesday 1st November 2017 13:22 GMT Anonymous Coward
ofcoms checker is full of lies
Well, that's to be expected, as Ofcom are central to the problem here, by failing to sort out low power signal boosters. By all means ban cheap ones that cause problems, but it's 2017, there's no reason why domestic customers shouldn't be able to buy and use a compliant mobile signal booster, without having to have it officially provided and licensed by their mobile network.
And to clarify, I'm talking about mobile-booster-mast systems, not the crappy mobile-wifi-broadband efforts.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 10:57 GMT Flywheel
Wednesday 1st November 2017 12:15 GMT katrinab
Wednesday 1st November 2017 13:41 GMT Baldrickk
Re: Especially in the bathroom
The tiles play havok with the wifi signals. You find the same with tiled kitchens..
At home I get perfect Wifi in all rooms, including the far end of the house, two floors away.
Go the other side of the tiled bathroom though, and it starts dropping out. Shame that's my bedroom.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 14:24 GMT I ain't Spartacus
Re: Especially in the bathroom
It's funny, as the two places I've lived with dodgy reception have both had one good spot - the bathroom.
In my current flat I get OK signal when standing next to the windows - and mostly everything is OK. But on any longish call it sill subtly deteriorate, so I can still hear them perfectly but they can't hear me. The only way to solve this is to either go outside, or go into the bathroom - but then they can hear the telltale "echo of shame".
Though at least nobody can ever be sure, unless you flush...
Wednesday 1st November 2017 10:59 GMT Anonymous Coward
How to call in a powercut?
Currently home phones lines provide "power" and will (or should) work in a power cut. So calling emergency services (or even the power company) in a powercut is still possible.
Now with switching to VOIP we are told to call using mobile phones in powercuts. We too live with poor mobile signal indoors, my company even provided a femtocell to route calls over the BB but in a power cut...?
Wednesday 1st November 2017 11:09 GMT Anonymous Coward
Having a coverage map doesn't always help
I have a choice of many providers. Not one provides a usable signal were I live.
Just switched from Vodafone to Three. Both other WiFi Calling, but Vodafone don't run SMS over it (makes mandatory 2FA with HMRC a real pain) and you get no notification of voice mail! At least everything works with Three.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 11:18 GMT Anonymous Coward
Wednesday 1st November 2017 11:22 GMT Chz
Which is why smart meters are a con
My current electricity meter isn't "smart", but it is supposed to keep its time updated over the airwaves. It's currently 50 minutes out, because it's in a closet on the interior wall of a concrete slab maisonette. If 30% of users can't get a signal indoors, then ~30% of households will get no benefit from a smart meter.
(Okay, it's only *one* reason why smart meters are a con)
Wednesday 1st November 2017 11:50 GMT steelpillow
1. The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength and the poorer the indoor reception. For this reason, through-the-wall relays have always been recommended if you want good indoor reception - but don't expect the telco to pay for that! A cheap domestic one can be nothing more than a passive waveguide or antenna-to-antenna cable, the upcoming modern equivalent being VoIP over a WiFi-to-broadband router.
2. The higher the frequency the greater the data capacity, hence loved by every new generation. This tends to make newer generations less indoor-friendly than older ones.
3. Cost-benefit to the supplier: why give a **** about your users and install more cells unless your competitors do or the regulator makes you?
4. Cost-benefit to the user: why install obsolescent toys when you can just make sure that both your phone and router have WiFi and your telco supports VoIP?
So really, everybody is to blame: cheeseparing suppliers, irresponsible regulators, lazy consumers and the economics of progress.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 12:36 GMT OtotheJ
Here's a revolutionary idea...
Why not connect a telephone (you can even buy wireless ones these days) to your broadband line? It works for me!
Look at the coverage checkers for any of the providers here in the UK and they will all tell you they won't guarantee indoor coverage.
Additional bonus is that you can play Candy Crush at the same time as listening to your mother when she calls!
Wednesday 1st November 2017 13:01 GMT KKESH
'The chairman of the national infrastructure commission, Lord Adonis, recently called mobile phone coverage in Blighty "deplorable". His recent report into the UK's infrastructure found we are "behind other countries in its 4G mobile coverage, and it needs a plan to become a world leader in 5G and ultrafast broadband".
Gone are the days when this country will be a world leader in anything. The Bean Counters dictate things these days, and until we get rid of them we will never be a world leader in anything!
Wednesday 1st November 2017 13:32 GMT The Average Joe Bloggs
I have EE, and I get no signal at home. Instead I use EE's wifi calling option, which all carriers now should have on phones for the last few years. It just uses your wifi signal to make a phone call instead and doesnt cost a penny extra.
It works fine for me, no complaints at all.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 15:36 GMT David Nash
Wednesday 1st November 2017 16:57 GMT Ryan Clark
Re: WiFi Calling
I have recently switched to EE and have wifi calling, it doesn't appear to be that good. Still have problems with signal and calls in the house.
I do live in a village, but only a few miles from Birmingham and between two large towns. The land round here is pretty flat and yet still none of the networks have good reception, Vodafone was passable, but still had a not spot at the pub in the middle of the village.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 13:33 GMT Anonymous Coward
Indoors / foil insulation
Yep, my 2008-built house has foil-based cavity wall insulation panels, ad that definitely attenuates the signal. I don't know why they don't make small cuts in the metal, say on a 5cm grid, which would have the effect of making it almost RF-transparent...
Of course this additional attenuation only notices if the signal is already weak-ish.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 13:41 GMT techmind
And things could be improved with better phone software
I have good indoor 2G coverage, and very weak 3G and 4G, all on Vodafone. The phone software would rather hold on to a 3/4G signal (a miss incoming calls) than revert to 2G - and indoors/at-home it can use WiFi for high speed data anyway. Annoying.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 13:46 GMT CertMan
Remember that the Government are wanting to get rid of the TETRA radios that the emergency services use and move them over to 4G phones instead. I mentioned this to my MP and received a reply from a mandarin explaining that 4G coverage is universal and better than TETRA!
The maps say that I should have good 3G coverage - so why do I have to run down the street to get my 2FA texts which 4 out of 5 times have timed-out by the time I receive them? The operators (we have 3 different ones between the family members to get coverage at our workplaces) say that they will not supply a femto-cell so that we can get a signal as the maps say that we have good coverage.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 14:19 GMT Joe Harrison
PAYG and contract SIMs not same coverage
Not my field but I don't think trying out the coverage with a free PAYG SIM is representative. When I had an O2 PAYG they told me that using 4G was not allowed unless I paid extra so it's clear they can discriminate on a per-SIM basis.
Following that I moved house to a place with unusably slow wired broadband and very little mobile coverage. Careful experimentation with a cellular router, directional antenna, and a selection of both contract and PAYG makes me think that there's definitely a difference.
Of course sod's law, while I was still trying to figure it out Openreach upgraded my wired access to a decent speed, which is good but I am stuck with all this now-useless cellular hardware.
Wednesday 1st November 2017 15:01 GMT Test Man