Something that affects all phone users at some point is poor signal, resulting in slower data, dropped calls or delayed texts. It's a frustrating problem, and one that is quite often dependant on where you are and which service provider you have subscribed to at the time. The UK's independent regulator and competition authority, Ofcom, has used data and consumer research collected by RootMetrics from the second half of 2013 to check how customers were faring when making calls on the Three, EE, O2 and Vodafone networks. Data was also collected from the networks themselves, and although each network seems to aggregate their data differently, it would appear that roughly 98% of call attempts were successful.
EE came in with the highest overall proportion of successfully connected phone calls in the second half of 2013, achieving 97%, with O2 on 95.3%, Three with 94.5% and Vodafone bringing up the rear with 92.6%. This is of course dependant on where you live, the percentage of successful calls can drop to as low as 79.9% if you are on the Vodafone network in a rural area, as seen by the graph below.
On to the consumer research side of things, and when asked about their experiences with mobile reception, more than half (55%) said that they had either never or hardly ever experienced having zero mobile reception. On the flip-side, nearly 30% said that they experience little to no signal at least once every week.
When it came to dropped calls, 69% said they had little to no experience of having had a blocked call, followed up with 67% saying the same regarding dropped calls. On the opposite side of the scale are the people that say they experience blocked calls and dropped calls at least once a week, 20 and 22% respectively, with higher numbers in rural areas.
If you've ever been unable to place a call because the area you are currently in has network coverage, but has been overloaded with demand, this is what is called a blocked call. And a dropped call is when you or the orther participant placed the call in an area with network signal, but have proceeded to move into an area with little or no coverage at all.
Going forward, the EE, O2, Three and Vodafone carriers have agreed to work with Ofcom to develop a standard method of measuring rates of successful calls that are made on their networks, while also agreeing to match O2's obligation of providing 98% coverage for 4G.
So if you live in an area with little to no signal coverage what can you do? Well, if you are on the Three network, you can get in touch with their Home Networks Team at 0800 3584828 to discuss getting what is called a Home Signal Box that will connect to your router, and provide a 3G signal for your phone, enabling you to make calls and send texts. If you are on a contract, they should offer it rto you for free, though they will charge you if you are on a pre-paid contract. One of the downsides of the Home Signal box is that quite often, incoming calls are sent straight to voice mail, it's something that to think about when considering this option.
For Vodafone users, you can purchase a similar device called Sure Signal from their website for £100, which is a little pricey. It's worth phoning their customer services to see if you can either get a discount or even free-of-charge. O2 offer a similar device called Boost Box and EE have their Signal Box, but they are only available for business users at present.
Does Ofcom's findings correlate with your own experiences? Let us know in the comments below or at our Google Plus page.