Mobile signals can be highly variable depending on locality. At any time of the day one carrier could be providing excellent coverage and the other none, and an hour later it could be the reverse.
The Optus signal in most of my house and on the shelf 1m to my left is always usable although it varies between 2-4 bars. The signal in my right pocket while sitting at the computer comes and goes (mostly goes to no service) but on the counter in front of me or in my left pocket (!!) it goes and comes (mostly comes with 1-3 bars).
A decade ago I had Telstra service and it was not so different. It has been constant over 6 phones (Motos, LG, Samsungs, partner’s Oppo) although some phones were a bit better than others.
It is clearly something in my house that messes with the signal. Lots of electronics here in the ‘computer room’. I am not inclined to do more than know about it and whinge. I once frequented a location where standing at one outside corner of a building service was great, but going around the corner there was none.
The message is that expecting technology to work perfectly in all circumstances is sometimes a big ask.
That advice is golden! In addition to the phone comparison test, if there is a consideration to try another network, get a friend who is on that network to visit and see how it goes at your place, more than once at different times once the phone itself has been ruled out.
Re signal strength…I have been experimenting with times of day and wandering around the house…the main problem is that my signal strength is never above 2 bars and fluctuates from 0, so I get a lot of missed calls. More frustrating, is those times when you are calling a company to (eg insurance claim) and it takes a few times just to get the call through, then you are on hold for ever and when you finally speak with someone, they tell you they can’t hear you properly and hang up!! It’s just the double frustration of it all.
That’s also my dilemma…I’ve been with Virgin a long time and I’m happy with everything else. I don’t want to jump in with another company and then not be any better off!
Excellent advice…I’ll keep experimenting for a while. My neighbour opposite is with Virgin so I’ll get her to come over. She said her signal strength isn’t great, though she was with Telstra a while back and said it was bad too!
I’ve been calling my kids via internet /Facebook Messenger …such lovely clear reception…pity I can’t call companies on that!
You can via a VOIP program such as Skype. To ring phone numbers you have to put money onto the service (for Skype you can buy cards at places like Coles etc) then you dial their number and use your current audio system to talk and listen.
There are a few VOIP programs out there including as mentioned Skype, Engin, Google Voice, Viber and so on.
For Skype (and probably the others) you can get an unlimited Australia calling plan as well as PAYG, as well as an incoming landline number. All available from their website, no cards needed. Skype is not as good as it was before Microsoft bought it in that Microsoft removed the ability to set personal voicemail messages, and Skype has never supported incoming SMS so is far from a gold standard although reflects traditional landline use + outgoing SMS.
Hi @Suzique. I had the same problem - I used to joke that my house must be sited on an old alien spacecraft or something, as I was unable to get more coverage in only a couple of spots in the house (or back yard), and then only a couple of bars at best. I too am in a major metro area which ostensibly has excellent coverage: which was what I was told when I complained to both Virgin and Optus. In both instances I was told I was “in a black spot” and that this was unfortunate, but there was nothing they could do. There are no mountains, towers or tall buildings anywhere near me, so I fail to see how I could be in a “black spot”.
Every person on the Optus network who came to the house had the same problem, including tradies, so it wasn’t my phone. My partner trialled Telstra and had the same result. In the end I switched to Vodafone which, weirdly (considering their network reputation) provided pretty good coverage.
I know your question was about your rights in such circumstances, and I think others have covered that here. I simply wanted to suggest that when you do get out of your contract, using a cheap pre-paid SIM on other networks may be a way of deciding who you want to connect through in the future. Or, I guess, get some friends on other networks to roam about the house and see whether they have reception
Good luck! I know exactly how you feel, so have my fingers crossed you get a good outcome.
@FarmerRaq…great idea about trying out cheap pre-paid SIMs on other networks before committing to a new one. I have established that it’s not just my phone, as I had 2 x family members here over the weekend, all with Virgin and all with different phones …and we had exactly the same signal strength…which was 0 - 1. I may have to invite people over, based on their phone carrier, for my experiment to continue
If you have spoken to Virgin and they have not been able to fix the problem be aware that virgin use the Optus towers so that could be the problem as they have been upgrading towers to 4G and if you phone wont connect to the 4G properly it could mean you need to upgrade your phone but before you do try calling the Telecommunications Ombudsman and explaining your problem. They might be able to help as Virgin are just a seller of similar products that Optus have. You might get more help that way as calls shouldn’t be dropping out.
Virgin do have some good specials from time to time as I’ve looked and contemplated moving from Optus but haven’t yet I just buy a cheap prepaid phone that is linked to my carrier and transfer the SIMS over as I too am only paying a low amount for my plan.
I have been thinking about what else you could do @Suzique .
I have found two free iOS 11 apps that may be of use for you.
The first is called ‘FindTower’. It finds the local mobile phone towers with different icons for the different carriers. If you click on an icon it shows the
type (3G, 4G)
level of confidence
distance from you
You could load this app, and get better information on what Virgin/Optus has available in your vicinity. Unfortunately, there is no information on signal strength.
The second is called ‘OpenSignal’. The opening screen shows your carrier and the bars your phone shows.
On the bottom bar if you press coverage, it will show a crowdsourced map with green areas being strong signal (above -85dBm), and red/brown being weak signal (below -99dBm where you get poor data speeds and dropped calls).
Above the bottom bar is another bar which says ‘Compare Performance’. Click on that and it will show all available networks that cover where you are, with their download and upload speeds. Swipe Left and you get their Latency and signal strengths.
The data from the two apps should help you to compare and contrast the performance of the different network operators without having to join the other networks, or find phones connected to the other networks. Depending on results, you may be able to use the information to go back to Virgin and say that the signal is not up to the standard of the other networks.
I did complain to the Ombudsman, and Virgin got back to me pretty quickly after that. Virgin said if I wanted to move to another carrier, they would waive the contract fees. Interestingly, I was agonising over my “loyalty” to the company, as I am one of those loyal customers. Virgin then dumps the news that they are winding down, and we’re all out the door in 2 years anyway!
Further update…I finally took the plunge and changed carriers this week. I wanted a Telstra network option, without paying a fortune so I have now switched to the Aldi mobile network. Reviews had said the customer support was lacking, but I found the whole switching process online was very easy. I ported my number over and it was all done within an hour, with barely any phone interruption.
I’m now only paying $15 month for unlimited calls, texts and 1.5GB data (which rolls over). No contract and I can easily change plan options each month. Very happy…should have done it ages ago. And…I can now make calls from anywhere in my house!! Winning!!
When I read articles comparing Telstra’s excellent mobile service and coverage with Optus’ second (or third) rate service and coverage, it always reminds me of the story of the sign behind the counter at the stockfeed merchant, which read.
“We sell first grade oats so they cost a little more.
However, if you are happy to settle for oats that have already been through the horse, then they come a little cheaper.”