You see lots of complaints these days that mobile phone and Intent coverage is poor, even in built-up residential areas where you can reasonably expect good signals due to the proliferation of mobile phone masts. However, have you considered that it may be your house that is to blame and not the mobile phone companies?
We’ve all seen the stories on the the television’s consumer right programmes about people complaining that their mobile signal is very low inside their house, despite the fact they only live half a mile from the transmitter. They demand their money back and state that the mobile phone company is to blame. We then hear the ‘excuses’ from the mobile phone companies that “they don’t guarantee 100% coverage throughout the UK” and we don’t feel a jot of sympathy for them. We pay our money and expect good coverage everywhere.
Well, it may not be their fault after all, it may be ours – or more correctly, the houses and buildings which we use our mobile devices inside.
I read an interesting article by Peter Saul (G8EUX) in the September edition of Practical Wireless and he explains that modern buildings, and older ones which have been modernised or extended, are more resistant to the penetration of radio signals. Take heat reflective glass (e.g. Pilkington K); many people have upgraded their houses and had these double glazed units fitted as they can help to reduce the amount of heat lost through the windows. But how do they do it? By coating the inside of each pane of glass with a metal oxide which is virtually see-through, but reflective to both heat (infra-red) and radio waves. Peter reckons that there may be as much as 12dB of attenuation of radio waves through his double glazing, that’s a reduction of more than 93% of the radio signal on the outside of the window.
But it’s not just new double-glazed windows that are to blame. Peter goes on to say that, in an effort to make new houses (and extensions) more energy efficient, builders may use metal foil backed plasterboard which blocks radio signals very effectively.
The chances are that, with more newer houses being built and older houses being extended, the problem is only going to get worse and it may not be the fault of the mobile phone companies but our desire to save energy and be green.