One quarter of mobile users say bad service affects work

One quarter of mobile phone users have stated that poor network service affects their ability to work efficiently, according to new research.

??With 38.5% of the workforce using their mobile as their main phone at work, networks are struggling to cope, said ADC, a wireless communications research firm, which announced the findings of its research into mobile phone use within UK businesses.

The survey revealed that 60.8% of users rely on their mobile for their job, while 38.5% stated that this was their primary work phone.

However, almost two thirds of respondents also complained of less than perfect mobile service in their workplace, with 27.6% stating that their work has suffered due to poor reception. ??
ADC noted that the majority of mobile use now takes place indoors as opposed to outdoors and on the move. However, mobile networks are struggling to keep up with this trend and many users complain of coverage blackspots and insufficient service when using their phones inside.

ADC’s research shows that the biggest problem area for mobile service is in lifts and stairwells, with 44.3% of respondents complaining of poor signal in these places. A quarter also experienced problems when located anywhere away from the building’s exterior or windows.

Other areas participants found especially problematic included; conference rooms (28.5%); ground floor/basement (24.9%); and even at their desk (22.3%).??

“Poor in-building coverage is nothing new and with an increasing amount of mobile use taking place indoors, finding a solution to this problem is long overdue,” said John Spindler, VP product management at ADC. “Following recent stories like the Ofcom 3G “not-spots” map, which highlighted the significant network blackspots that currently exist in the UK, we expected a sizable number of respondents would be receiving less than adequate mobile coverage. However, what we didn’t anticipate was the knock-on effect that poor mobile performance would have on users’ day-to-day performance at work.”??

ADC said that UK businesses should be particularly concerned to learn that more than one in four respondents claimed that poor mobile service had had a detrimental impact on their work. Common complaints highlighted the seriousness of the issue and included: “Dropped call mid-conversation made a very poor impression on a prospective customer”; “Delayed messages, lost time, frustration”; “Lost time, unable to conduct scheduled calls due to poor signal”; “Miscommunication issues”; and “Prevented from closing a new business deal”.??

Spindler continued: “It’s unbelievable to think that some companies are losing out on new business because of poor mobile coverage, but this is the case and there are likely to be even more problems as the proliferation of smartphones continues. The majority of mobile phone users feel they aren’t getting the most out of their mobile’s functionality now. While voice quality was generally judged to be sufficient, email, web browsing, location based services, business applications and mobile TV – all of which are set to become much more common with smartphones – were all reported to be unsatisfactory.”??

The mobile service issues reported manifested themselves in a variety of different ways. The biggest complaint was poor voice quality, an issue experienced by almost half (48.7%) of respondents. Dropped calls (31.2%) and an inability to place calls even when the device showed adequate signal (33.3%) were also common complaints. In addition, 21.7% experienced slow data rates when accessing the mobile web.??

“While we might be more willing to accept coverage problems in older buildings, new buildings are often the worst offenders as they have been built without considering how to accommodate the current and future wireless needs of the people who will be using them,” continued Spindler. “Additionally, we hear people speaking specifically about low-grade voice quality. Consumer patience may have worn thin on mobile operators providing reliable and seamless voice service. I expect complaints to include data latency and inability to access business-specific applications in the near future.”??

To deal with this problem, ADC states that it is essential to continue to move away from the macro tower method of delivering signal, reduce cell sizes significantly, and provide signal exactly where it is needed. Microcellular technologies add a greater number of antennae in more locations and are an effective way to cater to the ever-rising number of users accessing high bandwidth services. Even if a building had not been designed with this in mind, this technology can be implemented with a minimal amount of disturbance as discreet remote antennas can be fixed in existing wall cavities and utility areas to provide precision coverage.??

Spindler concluded: “While the solutions to in-building challenges are relatively simple, I have concerns over how easy it will be to rectify these problems. Almost a third of the respondents in our survey worked for technology or telecommunications companies – if these guys are struggling to sort this out, what hope does anyone else have?”??