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Study Claims UK Restaurants “Ruined” by Poor Mobile Connectivity

Thursday, August 15th, 2019 (1:31 pm) - Score 1,482
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A new survey of 2,000 mobile phone using UK adults, which was conducted by Global Wireless Solutions and OnePoll, has claimed that 11% of respondents felt their experience in a restaurant had “been ruined due to poor mobile connectivity.” Meanwhile EE and O2 offered the most reliable service while inside such eateries.

Generally it’s considered polite NOT to use your mobile phone while in a restaurant, particularly if you’re dining with family members or on a romantic evening out. On the other hand the term “restaurants” also tends to cover a multitude of different eateries, such as coffee or tea shops, and some people do go in just to do a little work while munching.

Nevertheless nattering away on a mobile is unlikely to win you too many friends among your fellow diners, although using the mobile broadband (3G, 4G or 5G) connection on your Smartphone or Laptop to check things (e.g. emails, news) is usually something that doesn’t cause annoyance, especially if you’re working or flying solo.

Aside from their consumer survey, GWS’ team of engineers also spent a month conducting “scientifically controlled tests” evaluating mobile network performance inside and outside 50 of the most popular restaurants in London. Much like their last survey, which covered the not particularly riveting but mildly comical mobile habits of gym users, this study is also fairly disposable and so we’ll just summarise the findings.

Survey Results (Mobile Connectivity in Restaurants)

  • O2 and EE saw the highest rate of successful call attempts (99%) across all 50 restaurant locations tested.
  • Three of the four operators had over 95% data task success rates – O2 finished top (99%), followed by Vodafone (98%) and Three UK (97%). EE struggled, however, with more than one in ten data tasks failures (87%).
  • Of the Top 10 restaurants in terms of network performance, EE were fastest in five locations for download speeds, followed by O2 (three) and Vodafone (two).
  • Vodafone and O2 both performed strongly for social uploads, each claiming four top 10 finishes for upload speeds for larger file tasks.
  • But with dramatic swings in performance from operator to operator, location to location, it seems that networks are still struggling to extend coverage inside popular restaurant locations:
    —- At Brassiere Zedel, there was only 39% coverage across the whole restaurant – while three of the operators managed less than 20% success rates for the voice calls and data tasks.
    —- At Salt Yard (in Fitzrovia), while O2 managed 82 Mbps for the capacity test, Three only delivered 1 Mbps.
    —- At the Sky Garden’s Darwin Brasserie, Three in particular struggled for both voice call accessibility (64%) and data sessions success rate (47%).
  • One in ten (11%) Brits say their experience in a restaurant has been ruined due to poor mobile connectivity.
  • More than a quarter (26%) of Brits regularly browse the internet while at the dinner table.
  • The same proportion (26%) have been unable to connect to the internet using mobile data when in a restaurant.
  • Over a fifth (23%) have been forced to leave a restaurant to use their phone because of poor mobile service.

In addition, 18% of Brits expect all restaurants to offer free WiFi as standard. While GWS found that the overall speeds of the network were similar across mobile and WiFi, several of the restaurants tested did not provide any working WiFi at all. This was highlighted by GWS’ consumer survey that discovered many people feel they cannot rely on WiFi coverage when dining out (only 11% of Brits surveyed look for WiFi when they dine out) and 24% said they had previously been unable to connect to a restaurant’s WiFi.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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11 Responses
  1. Avatar 5G Infinity

    Can include most hotels as well, even ones on side of M1 have poor to no coverage indoors

  2. Avatar Fred

    My local does have mobile coverage but if your phone goes off then everybody boos. If it goes of twice the landlord throws you out. He has eased up a bit – you can get away with the odd text if the phone is on silent.

    I don’t like sitting around having a social meal with the people I am with on phones. When I travel for work on my own I might want to surf or something whilst eating. I think the idea that a restaurant is ‘ruined’ but poor coverage quite sad though…

    I would agree that coverage in hotels is important, especially when working. It is often easier to connect to work via WIFI tethered phone. I also find hotels that charge for WIFI per device. If you are working you might want to connect a work laptop and connect a personal device for Netflix or whatever people on their own watch in hotel rooms….

  3. Avatar gerarda

    I would prefer the headline “UK restaurants ruined by good mobile connectivity”

  4. Avatar beany

    ‘In addition, 18% of Brits expect all restaurants to offer free WiFi as standard.’
    Were they entitled idiots that also expected to gobble the food for free?

    Oh how i miss working in Japan, start talking loudly on your mobile on a train and every passenger will stare at you with a murderous look on their face. While not illegal to use your phone on a train there it is considered very inpolite. Using it silently (IE email, text etc) is more acceptable but you will still get the odd look, normally from the older generation. There is actual signage near some seats to say no mobiles.

    Real and decent restaurants there (not fast food but actual dinning with waiters/servers etc) in some cases you have to hand your phone in to a front desk hostess before you are seated. If you do not and it rings they will ask you to leave (and unlike here the person normally accepts they are wrong rather than shout, scream and swear like an entitled brat). If you are caught using it silently (IE taking a picture of the food or sending a text) staff will often remind you you should hand the phone in or not use it, if you do not and you use it again you are asked to leave.

    Ironically despite all that unlike here you can actually rent mobile phones by the day and in typical fashion for Japan even from vending machines (I imagine if they started that here in the likes of London over night it would be smashed and its contents grabbed).

    One does have to wonder what type of generation we are raising if 18% of them already want to use their phone while out eating and cant live the typical 30 mins to an hour without it. Id say that is more sad than any poor wifi coverage.

  5. Avatar HullLad

    More ‘study’ guff from an organisation with a vested interest in the results.

    Next week: ‘Study by dogs finds that cats are harmful to humans, and bonio’s emit a radio signal which reverses the aging process’

  6. Avatar Thanos is right

    Sad reflection on society that mobile coverage whilst enjoying a meal with family and friends is a big problem.

  7. Avatar Meadmodj

    If their answer is more dense or higher power transmitters to overcome the building materials and structures then it’s a no from me.

    In my experience most restaurants, pubs and coffee outlets (where broadband permits), do have WIFI if only for their own POS devices. Some have guest WIFI but only enable it on request. It should be up to the business to decide whether they want to encourage mobile/WIFI use in their particular establishment and they should not be criticised if they choose not to.

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