Indoor mobile signal data = a more useful annual UK Mobile Benchmark

Every year (since 2014) P3 and connect magazine partner to survey mobile connectivity in the UK, assessing all four of the mobile network operators provisions from an end user perspective.

It’s exciting to see all the mobile operators keeping pace with the massive growth in data traffic, particularly in high density locations like London. Congratulations to EE and Vodafone for ranking so highly in voice and data provisions, and O2 deserve a shout out for ranking highly in operational efficiency, as do Three for achieving a “good” rating overall. If you’re curious, you can see a great summary video of the results here.

It’s fair to say that most of us have come to expect a seamless voice and data experience on our mobile phones as par for the course, especially with so many of us completely dependent on our devices for both work and play. This expectation is a real credit to the mobile operators and the service that they each provide.

However, it’s important to point out that these rightly well-respected mobile service rankings do still leave one mobile signal stone unturned, and that’s indoor mobile coverage. Our radio frequency engineers estimate that 95% of the test calls made for this assessment would have been made outdoors. With industry statistics showing that 80% of mobile usage is happening inside buildings, the data used to create these rankings unfortunately doesn’t fully reflect how most of us use our mobile phones today.

Instead, because of more environmentally friendly building materials (such as attenuated glass for windows) the customer experience of mobile phone use indoors is frequently a lot more unpredictable and unreliable than this annual Mobile Benchwork report suggests. We bet that you yourself have had the experience of needing to go outside to make or pick up a mobile call at least once before, and we know many who have that experience every day!

Our suggestion for the P3 Mobile Benchmark partnership is to incorporate in-building signal testing to their process. The result will be an even fuller picture of the UK’s mobile coverage capabilities. With the advent of the Internet of Things, and as the mobile operators’ progress 4G+ and 5G provisions, clarity around country-wide connectivity, both indoors as well as out, would do a lot to help everyone better understand how to get network, wherever they are.

9 November 2017