Press release:

Never mind 5G: One in three mobile users get patchy or no call reception in their own homes

  • More than six in 10 (62%) mobile users suffer patchy call quality and half (50%) experience calls cutting out while using mobiles indoors at home[1]
  • Regionally, Londoners suffer the worst indoor mobile reception, with 42% reporting poor or no coverage at home[2]
  • O2 customers are most likely to rate their indoor mobile coverage as ‘excellent’ (67%), while Three customers are least likely (60%)[3]
  • Of those struggling with their home mobile coverage, 39% rely on landlines, 30% head to the garden, 27% Skype, Whatsapp or Facetime using their home Wi-Fi and 11% resort to leaning out of a window[4]
  • Almost two thirds (64%) of mobile owners did not check their current network’s coverage map before signing up, with almost a fifth (18%) unaware this is possible[5].

Over a third (34%) of UK mobile users – more than 17 million people – get poor or no mobile reception in their own homes, according to new research by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service[6]. In addition, more than six in 10 (62%) mobile users currently suffer some patchy call quality and half (50%) experience calls cutting out while using mobiles indoors at home[1].

UK mobile users say that, on average, more than a fifth (21%) of all calls they make or take on their mobiles at home are patchy, while the voice on the end of the line cuts in and out in around one in six (17%) calls[1]. These two issues affect around one in 10 customers in at least seven in 10 calls made or taken on their mobile at home [1].

Of the third of UK mobile users struggling with indoor mobile reception, more than half (57%) say the issue has plagued them since they moved into their current property, while almost a fifth (19%) say the problem started when they switched to their current mobile network[7]. Another 12% have had reception problems since they bought a new handset, while 5% believe the problems began when they, or their neighbours, had structural work completed on their property[7].

Although those living in rural areas are the most likely to get poor, partial or no reception inside their homes (52%), those living in the city are next in line for poor indoor coverage with 41% of city dwellers reporting poor, partial or no mobile coverage[8]. Conversely, those in suburbia are most likely to rate their indoor mobile coverage as ‘excellent’ (72%)[8]. Regionally, Londoners suffer from the worst indoor mobile reception (42%), followed by those in the South West of England (41%)[2].

Across the big four mobile networks, O2 customers are most likely to rate their indoor coverage as ‘excellent’ (67%), while Three customers are least likely (60%), as shown in the table below:

Table one: Percentage of customers who rate their indoor mobile reception as ‘excellent’ or ‘poor/partial/no’ reception

Network

% reporting ‘excellent’ indoor mobile reception

% reporting poor/partial/no indoor mobile reception

EE

65%

35%

O2

67%

33%

Three

60%

40%

Vodafone

64%

36%

Source: uSwitch.com 

Of those who get poor or partial mobile coverage in their homes, 39% rely on landlines, 36% have to use their mobiles while rooted to the same particular spot, 30% go out into the garden and 27% rely on home Wi-Fi to make calls through Skype, Whatsapp and Facetime[4]. More than one in 10 (11%) even resort to leaning out of windows[4].

 Only 5% reported that their previously poor reception at home is now excellent[9]. The  majority of those that rectified the situation did so by switching networks (38%)[10].

 Almost two thirds of mobile phone owners (64%) did not check their current network’s coverage map before signing up to see if they could get indoor signal in their area, with almost a fifth (18%) completely in the dark about their ability to do so[5]. 

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, says: “Decent mobile signal at home isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s absolutely essential for the growing numbers who choose not to have landline phones and rely on mobiles to avoid isolation, or vulnerability in emergencies.

“Those in rural areas are being failed simply because the mobile networks have not yet extended their coverage to the furthest reaches of the UK – although the passing of the Digital Economy Bill may mean networks can be fined if they fail to meet their obligations. We hope this provides significant incentive to improve matters here.

“Meanwhile, those in built-up urban areas may find signal affected by numerous issues including construction materials, home extensions, and even cranes.

“In a bid to avoid the plague of poor signal, mobile users should check coverage maps, which you can find online, for where they live, work and socialise before joining a network. And, if you find call reception gets worse over time, double check it’s not your handset or a faulty SIM card that’s the problem before you look to change networks.

 “It’s worth letting your provider know right away if you’re experiencing issues as it might be something that can be fixed with a signal booster. Failing that, you might want to look at switching networks but do keep a log of any call reception issues, and note the dates you contact your network to report them, so you can build a watertight case to switching away mid-contract if needs be.”

 For more information visit www.uswitch.com or call 0800 093 0607

— ends —

Notes to editors

Survey conducted online via Opinium from September 13th to 16th 2016, among 2,002 nationally representative  UK adults aged 18+. The results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

  1. Table 2: Level of call disruption
What % of the time do you experience the following when making or taking a mobile call indoors at home? % of UK mobile users currently experiencing this Average % of calls currently affected % of users who encounter this problem on more than 70% of all calls
Patchy call quality – voice cutting in & out 62% 21% 11%
Calls suddenly cutting out 50% 17% 10%
  1. Respondents were asked: ‘Thinking of your mobile call reception, what is it like in your home? Please think about indoors only, don’t count in the garden or on a balcony’. The net response for ‘poor/partial/no reception’ was 42% in London and 41% in SW England. Other UK regions available on request.
  2. See Table 1
  3. Table 3: Dealing with the issue of poor mobile reception in the home
How do you deal with the problem of poor mobile reception? Results based on those with poor reception or partial coverage at home
I rely on a landline 39%
I make mobile calls in a specific area of my home where I can get reception 36%
I make mobile calls in the garden 30%
I connect to home Wi-Fi and make calls through apps like FaceTime, Whatsapp or Skype 27%
I lean out of a window 11%
I open a window or a door 10%
I borrow another family member’s mobile, on another network 5%
I bought a connectivity booster 3%
I tried to switch to another mobile network, but that didn’t work 1%
  1. Respondents were asked: ‘Did you check your network’s coverage map before signing up to their service, to check you could get indoor signal in your area?’ – the net response for ‘no’ was 64%, and 18% said ‘no, I wasn’t aware you could do this’
  2. Respondents were asked: ‘Thinking of your mobile call reception, what is it like in your home? Please think about indoors only, don’t count in the garden or on a balcony’. The net response for ‘excellent reception was 66% and the net response for ‘poor/partial/no reception’ was 34%. 97% of UK adults personally own/use a mobile phone. There are 51,339,000 million people aged 18 and over in the UK according to the ONS. 97% of 51,339,000 million is 49,798,830. 34% of 49,798,830 = 16,931,602
  3. Respondents were asked: ‘How long has the problem of poor reception been going on for?’ 57% said ‘since I moved in’, 19% said ‘since I moved to my current network’, 12% said ‘since I bought a new handset’, 4% said ‘since we had structural building work completed in our home’ and 1% said ‘since our neighbours had structural building work done on their home’
  4. Table 4: Location vs indoor mobile reception
Where do you live? % reporting ‘excellent’ indoor mobile reception % reporting poor/partial/no indoor mobile reception
City centre/ inner city 59% 41%
Urban area, but not inner city 70% 30%
Suburban area 72% 28%
Village or small town 64% 35%
Rural area 48% 52%

 

  1. Respondents were asked: ‘Thinking of your mobile call reception, what is it like in your home? Please think about indoors only, don’t count in the garden or on a balcony’ – 19% said ‘mobile reception is poor – patchy and intermittent’, 3% said ‘I get no reception at all so I cannot make or take calls in my home’, 7% said ‘I can get good reception on the upper floors of my home only’ and 4% said ‘I can get good reception on the lower floors of my home only’, 61% said ‘reception is excellent, 5% said reception is excellent now but used to be poor
  2. Respondents were asked: ‘If you used to have a problem with mobile reception inside your home that has now been rectified, how did you fix it?’ 28% said ‘switched to a different network once my contract had ended’, 9% said ‘switched to a different network while I was still mid-contract’, 23% said ‘bought a new handset’, 3% said ‘ordered and inserted a new SIM card’, 9% said ‘mobile network supplied me with a free signal booster’ and 2% said ‘purchased a signal booster
  3. As reported here

 

 

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