Mobile Operators Urged To Boost Indoor Coverage As Two Fifths Report Home ‘Blackspots’

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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GWS research suggests a kitchen in a Georgian or 2000s house is the worst place for indoor mobile coverage

Two fifths of Brits have a mobile ‘blackspot’ inside their homes, according to a survey and technical tests conducted by Global Wireless Solutions (GWS), which highlight the difficulty for operators in providing quality mobile coverage to customers.

A poll of 2,000 mobile users found a third had issues making and receiving calls at home, while 30 percent also said they had data issues.

Residents of Liverpool were most likely to complain of poor coverage at home, with 60 percent claiming they had a blackspot, while more than half of respondents in Cardiff and Bristol also reported issues.

Home is where the 4G is

BT infinity house 2The Kitchen is the most likely location for a notspot, while Georgian houses and homes built in the 2000s are the most culpable. However, properties built in the 1910s, 1970s and 1990s are less affected.

GWS backed up the survey with tests of its own, using mobile testing rigs to assess coverage at 50 homes in London. Three SIMs from all four major UK operators were used with Samsung Galaxy S6 devices to test for outdoor coverage and signal in the kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom over a period of six weeks.

The company says this method provided it with ‘Level 3’ network information unavailable to ‘crowdsourced’ methods from the likes of Opensignal.

According to the survey, 35 percent of Londoners claimed they had a blackspot and GWS found the transition from outdoor to indoor had a noticeable impact on service quality. One in every 14 calls made on EE failed indoors, while O2 blocked or dropped less than one percent.

Operator challenge

All operators were found to have issues with 4G data coverage. O2’s LTE network was accessible 92 percent of the time indoors, ahead of Vodafone with 87 percent and EE 85 percent. Three on the other hand was only accessible 55 percent of the time indoors.

“The UK is no longer a ‘fixed line’ nation. When we’re at home we don’t just receive calls on our mobiles – we make them too,” said Paul Carter, CEO of GWS. ““It is to the credit of the UK operators that British consumers are increasingly using mobile data when at home. But success comes at a price and the expectations of those consumers are now more daunting – and harder to meet – than ever before.”

Given that a quarter of respondents said they had switched networks because of data issues and one seventh said voice problems had caused them to jump ship, indoor coverage is a serious topic for operators. Many are using Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) and Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology, lower frequency spectrum and femotcells to boost indoor coverage.

“Our data is clear: in-home mobile data blackspots drive subscribers to ditch and switch their service provider,” added Carter. “That’s why operators need to move quickly and decisively to demonstrate the level of service they’re actually providing to Brits – with robust, understandable data that turns their in-home wireless data performance into a selling point, rather than a liability.”

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