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As more and more people work from home, testing of UK mobile networks by Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) has revealed that operators are meeting customer expectations on mobile network speed over 96% of the time. However, not having great coverage is having a definite impact on business productivity.
Early this year, the GWS Business OneScore evaluation process measured the overall network performance of more than 200 businesses ranging from 100 to over 5,000 employees through research firm Vanson Bourne. It took into consideration voice, data, video, coverage and reliability metrics based on what is important to businesses.
A total of 936,249 data and voice task tests were conducted from October to December 2019 to evaluate the network performance of EE, O2, Three and Vodafone in 33 major cities and towns. The tests were conducted using the GWS OneMeasure App running on iPhone devices, Rohde & Schwarz’s Freerider SW using Samsung Galaxy devices, and the GWS Mobistat data evaluation and reporting platform.
Principally, the research showed that businesses around the country are in the “sweet spot” for speed 96% of the time as mobile networks are enabling consumers to complete various online activities between four and six seconds. According to the research, three-quarters of businesses agreed that this was an acceptable length of time to wait to complete activities such as loading news and other websites. When asked about regular complaints about mobile network performance, only 18% of businesses cited speed as a common complaint.
More than half of the businesses questioned in the survey cited the need for more reliable connectivity to enable more employees to work from home. In some cases, this sub-par coverage was said to negatively impact employees’ output, with three-quarters (75%) of businesses claiming that employee productivity suffered because of their organisation not receiving excellent mobile coverage.
The findings also shed light on some of the country’s best cities for mobile business usage, with Liverpool coming top, and Cardiff and Bristol among those performing well within the top 10. But businesses in other major metropolitan areas, such as London, Newcastle, Reading and Leeds, are being let down. Despite being home to more than one-third of the country’s businesses, London was found to be among the worst-performing cities for mobile business connectivity, coming 25th.
GWS also found that with remote working heavily reliant on mobile communication, it was no surprise that 45% of businesses considered having reliable and adequate connectivity to enable more employees to work from home as a priority for mobile telecoms over the next year.
Even before the recent surge in demand on networks caused by the Covid-19 crisis, improving coverage and reliability has been the top area for UK operators to work on, according to businesses. Some 39% of the businesses surveyed said their employees had complained about mobile network coverage, closely followed by dropped calls (28%). Also, 53% of businesses said they would like to see more consistent voice call accessibility and quality from their operator.
Read more about UK mobile coverage
- UK mobile survey shows increasing user reliance on connectivity, with network operators needing to act now to ensure strong performance for consumer demands across work use cases.
- Country Land and Business Association urges government to consider broadband-style interventions to improve 4G mobile network coverage in rural areas.
- London mayor Sadiq Khan has launched a new standard agreement for commercial landlords and public property owners to make it easier to access rooftops to install 5G.
Despite the popularity of emailing, and before the recent statistics revealed by the UK’s network operators suggested that many were now using IP-based voice services, GWS found that calling remains one of the most important mobile phone functions in a business capacity, with 77% of businesses making and receiving traditional phone calls each day.
In fact, phone calls are more commonly used in business for everyday communication with clients and customers than any other method, including emailing, texting and even face-to-face. The importance of voice was further highlighted as voice quality, call connecting and network coverage were rated the top three most important network performance considerations for businesses.
GWS CEO Paul Carter said that while it was encouraging to see many cities across the UK performing well when tested before the current crisis, in the current economic climate, the ability for businesses everywhere to function effectively remotely was more important than ever.
“The business world we know has changed dramatically over the last few weeks, and those businesses that were not already offering remote working options have been forced to do so,” he said. “It is therefore crucial that operators understand how businesses are using – and want to use – their network, so they can provide services that meet their needs.
“Operators must focus not only on ensuring their network speeds remain adequate, but also on ensuring consistent reliability across the country. That way, businesses will be able to continue to offer remote seamless working solutions without compromising on productivity.”