Will Guyatt, Gadget Guy - Sofa so bad when it comes to rural signal

Will Guyatt

Will Guyatt

First published in News

My trusted smartphone saves me several times every day – it might be providing directions to a meeting, or enabling me to email the office from a far-flung location. However, there are times where living in Wiltshire makes this wonder device as useful as a doorstop.

Go to almost any village pub in the county and you’ll see a familiar scene – it’s not just smokers standing around outside. The ale and food inside is probably top notch, but you’ll see many punters under 30 pointing their smartphone to the sky hoping for a snatched moment of signal or connectivity, just to ensure they haven’t missed out on any calls, texts or updates.

I find myself doing the same at my parents’ house in Steeple Ashton. I’d love to sit on Dad’s sofa to wind him up, but I can’t receive a mobile signal on it, but if I move two metres to the left, I can. If I need to make a phone call, I need to head upstairs to my old bedroom – now part shrine to me, part dumping ground.

This ritual would not be tolerated in major towns or cities, but it is just accepted that those in rural areas should not expect a mobile signal. My own tests of the four major networks have highlighted that none of the networks would work properly in the places I’d like them to. If

you are struggling to get a signal in your house, your mobile network may offer you a signal booster – sold under a variety of different names. This requires you to plug it into your home broadband router and then offers a low speed but reliable mobile phone signal to the property and its immediate surroundings. Currently EE, Three and Vodafone will either give you a booster for free, or sell you one for up to £100 dependent on how long you’ve been a customer, and how much you spend. In the meantime, we should imagine that O2 customers are encouraged to hang out the front window in the hope they can get a signal.

When it comes to the UK as a whole, a new survey out this week has named EE as the UK’s best mobile network and that Vodafone was currently the worst performing. It also found that all four major networks had shown significant improvement in performance in the first half of 2014 – hopefully that means I’ll soon be winding Dad up from the comfort of his sofa.

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