I work as a Network Engineer for a large telco (not BT..urrrgh), so might be able to give you a reason. there are quite a few fibre breaks dotted
around the country and while you might not think they'd affect mobile, the traffic has to get from the base station to the core network somehow!
Well, nothing I know of in your area. Between Basingstoke and Southampton there isa fibre outage on Global Crossing (which handle alot of carrier
traffic), we (C&W) have one up in Scotland but not sure about anywhere else.
Another thing to consider, aside from Sun flares (which is a good and probably best explanation so far) is the heat. We're having issues all over
with air con failing and kit overheating, would imagine the same is for the other carriers.
There was just a thread about the same thing like 2 days ago happening in Canada. I can't find the link just at the moment though. Seemed liked
several carriers there were loosing service, while others weren't affected.
I have a couple of mobiles, one's on 3 network the other T Mobile. The reception on my 3 phone has always been bad I have to go outside and
literally go up a tree to get a bit of reception, my T Mobile reception is ok and I also noticed the reception on 3g dongle is bad and this is in
london I now have a T Mobile dongle and the reception is fine much better and faster.
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