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Lost signal, lost workforce

A quarter (25%) of British office workers say they would consider moving jobs, or already have done so, due to a lack of mobile coverage in their building, according to research from UK communications infrastructure company Arqiva.

Lost signal
Lost signal

The survey of 1,000 UK office workers reveals that half of respondents (49%) have experienced poor mobile coverage (i.e. dropped calls or lack of a signal) within their office building. Of these, almost three quarters (72%) say this happens every week, while 25% experience it daily.

Younger workers are particularly intolerant of the growing problem, with the number of respondents willing to leave their job from generations X and Y rising to over a third (35%).

When respondents were asked who they think is accountable for mobile coverage issues, the vast majority (90%) cited their mobile network. However, responsibility was also distributed amongst a number of other parties including the device itself (70%), the IT manager (42%) and the building designer (41%).

Commenting on what businesses can do to tackle office signal black spots and retain their workforce, John Lillistone, head of products and telecoms at Arqiva, said: “Effective and consistent indoor mobile coverage relies on far-travelling, uninterrupted signal, but modern buildings are filled with materials that act as radio signal barriers, i.e. metallised insulation, steel frames or treated glass. As we move towards 5G, there will be more interruptions as the higher frequencies will mean shorter signal range.

“Employers need to start considering indoor coverage as a fifth utility, making it a key consideration when selecting office space, and challenging business owners to make provisions to boost the signal within their owned building. Ask them what plans they have in place to ensure quality mobile coverage.

“This could be achieved through a number of technology solutions, including distributed antenna systems (DAS), small cells, or a mixture of the two.

“Mobile coverage should always be checked before any agreement is given by a business to move into a building. The best way to do this is simply to visit the location and check the signal using a mobile phone – it might be worth doing this with several phones bearing in mind that the signal will vary by network operator. There is also a really useful organisation called WiredScore which gives buildings a score based on their connectivity.

“In general, there needs to be acceptance that mobile coverage is not solely the responsibility of the mobile operator. Everyone needs to work together to make sure the coverage is what it needs to be. As it stands, many buildings are developed today without the mobile operators even knowing about them so when 50 staff move in it can often be beyond the capacity of the current network.”

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