Mobile phone service faults and problems

Published: 5 March 2024

Are you having problems with your mobile phone? Has it started to lose signal or is it disconnecting in the middle of a call?

We know how frustrating it can be when things go wrong. If you’re having problems, this guide explains how you can get them sorted.

Have you made any recent changes?

Have you carried out any building work around your home, such as increasing the number or thickness of any of the walls? In some cases, this could affect the strength of your mobile signal.

For more advice, read our guide to improving your indoor coverage.

Do you experience problems in one location, or is it happening everywhere you use your phone?

Make a note of the problem – where, when and what happened. This will be useful if you speak to your provider about the problem.

If you’re having problems using your phone in a place you haven’t tried to use it before, check what level of coverage should be expected at that location. Use Ofcom’s mobile coverage checker.

Moving home?

If you are moving home, check what kind of service your provider can offer at your new address. You can do this by talking to your provider or using Ofcom’s coverage checker.

If your provider can’t offer the level of service you need at your new address, ask them how much you would need to pay if you wanted to cancel. A signal booster or other equipment to help improve coverage might also be available. Not all companies would require you to pay an early termination charge in these circumstances.

Could there be a fault with your handset or SIM?

If you’re having trouble wherever you go, then the problem could be with your handset.

Ask your provider for advice. They might ask you to carry out some checks to find out what is happening. For example, they might ask you to remove your SIM card, wipe it, and replace it to see if that helps. They might also ask you to put it into another (unlocked) device, to check whether the problem is with your SIM card or your handset.

Is the problem affecting others?

The problem may be more widespread than just your mobile phone.

Most providers offer a service or status checker – either online or through an app – listing known big network issues.

This information should also be available by phone – either through an automated message or from your provider’s customer service team. Often this information will tell you when they expect the problem to be fixed.

If your problem is not listed on the service checker, contact your provider as they might not be aware of it.

If you have been without the level of service you were promised, you may be able to claim some form of compensation – see below.

Who is responsible for fixing the fault?

Your contract is with your provider, so they are responsible for ensuring faults are fixed and for keeping you up to date on progress.

What if my provider doesn’t own the network?

Your provider is responsible even if they use another company’s network to provide their service to you.

How long should I wait for a repair?

In most cases, your provider should be able to find out reasonably quickly what has gone wrong. If it is a network service fault, they should tell you how and when it will be fixed.

Ask your provider how they will keep you up to date on progress. This might be through their customer services team, a service app or by registering for fault update alerts.

Give your provider reasonable time to fix the problem. If you have done this already and are concerned about the time a repair is taking, escalate your concerns with your provider.

Staying connected while faults are sorted

Ask your provider if they offer other ways of accessing your service while repairs are being made. You may be able to make calls or send texts using a wifi connection – see above.

Am I entitled to compensation?

Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate for your provider to offer you some money back while repairs are being made.

In more extreme cases, where repairs take much longer, you may be entitled to an additional refund or account credit.

If you have been without service for a while, you may also have the right to leave the contract without penalty. There may be a term in your contract saying you can do this if your provider has failed in its obligations to you or breached a key condition.

How do I complain?

If your provider fails to repair a fault by the date promised, or you are unhappy with how long it is taking, follow their formal complaints procedure. This should be explained on their website or by their customer services team.

If your problem is still unresolved after eight weeks, you can complain to an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. Ask your provider for a ‘deadlock’ letter so that you can refer your dispute to the relevant ADR scheme directly before the eight-week mark.

There are two ADR schemes: the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) and Communications Ombudsman. All providers must belong to one of the schemes.

Your provider will tell you which scheme it is a member of, or you can use our ADR checker.

Tell Ofcom

If you have experienced faults or delayed repairs, please let us know by filling out our short monitoring form.

Although Ofcom does not investigate individual complaints, your help in highlighting problems plays a vital part in our work and we may investigate a company if monitoring data reveals a particular problem.

Most providers offer several ways to contact them about a fault. These include by phone, online, a ‘live chat’ function or a service app.

Contact your provider as soon as possible and try to describe the fault. Talk through the checks you have already carried out and explain how the problem is affecting your use of the service.

You might need to explain:

  • the times of day and locations where you are affected;
  • whether it affects voice, text and data; and
  • whether it is intermittent or continual.

If possible, send your provider a log of the interruptions to your service and the length of time each interruption lasted.

Request an alternative format

Call 020 7981 3040, use textphone 020 7981 3043 or by sending an email to accessibilityrequests@ofcom.org.uk.

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