Mobility

Terrible Mobile Coverage At Work: As Certain As Death And Taxes?

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Gavin Ray, SVP of products and marketing at ip.access, believes dodgy mobile coverage isn’t something we should put up with

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes…and unreliable mobile phone reception at work.” The great ‘founding father’ Benjamin Franklin knew the certainty of the future, but now we should add the bit he missed. Why? Well what would he have thought 250 years ago if the candle he needed to work by wouldn’t light?

Consistent mobile connectivity is a puzzling problem that we face. When you consider the extremes to which modern man has gone to develop amazing technology that can read your mind, create cameras to film the movement of light, and smartglasses for the blind – it seems almost farcical that poor mobile phone reception is still a major problem.

Suffering

There are varying extremities when it comes to poor mobile signal. Every country suffers from it, but to different degrees – no one could claim that they have “never” suffered from patchy mobile signal. The problem goes deeper than frustrated customers. Poor mobile phone reception equates to erosion in customer loyalty and a permanent black mark on the operator, in the mind of the customer.

Research conducted by ip.access in January, with 2,000 UK office workers, found that a startling 43 per cent of ‘higher managerial’ personnel at UK businesses have admitted they have to stand by an open window to take work calls on their mobiles; a clear indication that the problem of patchy mobile signal in the workplace is far from being corrected in the UK.

The research also indicated that UK businesses are losing over £30m a week as employees spend an hour or more each week hunting for better mobile reception. This equates to a UK total of 2.53 million hours a week spent, which means a mid-sized enterprise of 200 employees can expect to lose £2,800 a week from this downtime; a figure that really highlights the economic motivation for businesses and indeed operators to solve this problem.

There are a wide range of problems that businesses will face if they cannot improve the mobile reception for their employees. In an age of increased sensitivity and an enhanced emphasis on privacy, many employees choose to take or make work calls away from the desk. If an employee is tied to their desk, having to use a fixed line phone, the element of working flexibility that is so prominent and important in modern day working, is a write off.

There are certain conversations that just cannot be had with others in earshot, and this isn’t to say that they are top secret; but sensitive discussions about new business, contracts, and personal issues about individual employees (especially the case for HR managers) have to be had in a private setting.

It’s a ‘no win’ situation for many employees – you can’t bring yourself to use the landline phone for private conversations, but nor can you rely on your mobile, when you’re served with sub-standard mobile coverage.

While there is a problem for businesses and mobile operators, there are also technologies that can rectify this age-old constraint. Small cell technology can be used by businesses, sourced from operators and similar to WiFi but for mobile signal, to improve mobile coverage in the workplace to allow businesses to take control of patchy mobile reception for their employees.

The solution is not just significant for businesses. Operators will also benefit from stronger customer loyalty and a longer-lasting relationship with enterprises that are getting weary of having to make compromises due to poor mobile phone signal.

Inadequate mobile phone coverage is thought of as inevitable – ‘as certain as death and taxes’ – but the inevitability is only created by the historic acceptance that you’re not always going to get perfect mobile reception.

This is no longer the case, nor should it ever be accepted as the norm.

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