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Mobile Quality of Experience - the consumer perspective

30 April 2013

Chris Holland, Panel Member for England, spoke this month at an event to discuss mobile quality of experience. Chris presented the Panel’s views on the consumer, citizen and small business perspective. He highlighted that the Panel’s 2009 research Mobile coverage: the consumer perspective (PDF 1.91MB, opens in a new window) and Mobile coverage: the small business perspective (PDF 1.95MB, opens in a new window) had found that respondents – both consumers and small businesses - rated mobile phone coverage as more important than cost when choosing a network provider.  The research also found that over half (56%) of consumers had experienced problems with reception, a third of them (33%) regularly so. In 2010, the Panel published a report called: Can I cancel? Mobile coverage and contract cancellation (PDF 1.68MB, opens in a new window), which examined the information consumers were given about operators’ cancellation policies. The outcome of this work was to encourage the publication of comparable information about coverage and to influence industry to simplify coverage cancellation policies; and to make it easier for consumers to cancel contracts on the basis of inadequate network coverage. The Panel also highlighted the importance of ensuring that sales advisers are adequately trained so they can offer consumers appropriate advice and we encouraged Ofcom to explore ways to improve mobile coverage.

Chris noted that the Panel has welcomed recent significant contributions made towards addressing the urgent need to drive improvements in rural mobile voice and data coverage - the 4G coverage obligation; the mobile infrastructure project; and developments in industry, such as site sharing. But mobile coverage and reception issues continue to persist – Chris highlighted data from Ofcom’s Consumer Experience report which found levels of consumer satisfaction at 89% - but emphasised that this meant that around 6.6 million UK adult mobile customers do not express satisfaction with their mobile service, and 4.3 million state actual dissatisfaction. 

In the Panel’s view, the lack of voice and/or data coverage is no longer one of simple irritation for consumers and small businesses but it is now becoming an issue of real detriment. There is an urgent need to drive rapid improvements in rural and semi-rural mobile voice and data coverage if these sections of society are not to be left behind, left out and left wanting. As both consumers and small businesses are increasingly reliant on mobile devices, excellent network coverage and call quality combined with the provision of better information will help consumers make better choices – and make greater use of the functions and applications that they want, which in turn we hope will drive up service levels and ensure that a thriving competitive market benefits all stakeholders.


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