A significant number of users continue to report poor mobile coverage. There will always be areas which are uneconomic for mobile operator to reach, but some of these cases involve higher traffic areas. They range from rural areas hidden by geographic features, to dense urban areas enveloped with concrete. Modern building materials, such as reflective glass coatings on windows, reduce the signal levels inside buildings and also contribute to poor service.
This situation has worsened with the migration from 2G to 3G, which in many countries operates at a higher frequenecy (2100MHz rather than 900MHz), and thus has lower range. It also reduces the quality of the radio link and therefore the peak data rates achieveable.
This creates a strong case to deploy small cells inside buildings with poor coverage, and also for specific deadspots in outdoor areas.
Poor coverage has been quoted as one of the major drivers for takeup of residential femtocells in the USA, where the large geographical spread means in-house coverage can be poor in many areas. High quality residential mobile coverage encourages wider use of mobile devices, migrating calls from the wireline to cellular.
However, since residential femtocells are locked to a single host mobile network, it must be pointed out that all users in the home would have to use the same network operator. If existing contracts need to expire, or where "Mates Rates" are used to call/text others in the same social or business group, then this could be inconvenient.
Almost all residential small cells used for coverage use 3G technology, and are deployed in areas where the vast majority of users now have 3G capable phones.
View a list of current mobile network operators offering residential small cell/femtocells to their customers.