Calling all Android users… join our mobile research project

30 November 2017

We are encouraging people who use Android smartphones to join our research project seeking to improve mobile phone services.

Simply download the Ofcom Mobile Research app to take part.

This is the second phase of a research project which started last year. We are particularly keen to provide more detailed geographical analysis, including urban / rural areas and the Nations, and to compare the performance of the mobile network operators. But to do this we need even more people to take part.

About the research

More and more people are using their smartphones for diverse, demanding applications. Activities such as streaming music or video calls can put strain on mobile networks, and we want to better understand how current trends are likely to affect future demands.

We are calling on the UK's 20 million Android smartphone users to join our crowdsourced research project by downloading the app. Users can join a nationwide panel of volunteers who will help to gather valuable information about the reliability of voice calls and the performance and speed of mobile and wifi networks, as well as data on users' experiences, habits and satisfaction levels.

Our research aims to build an independent benchmark for both consumers and industry.

The data collected by the app - such as app use, voice call reliability, signal strength, location and data speeds - is anonymised and collated to build a nationally-representative dataset. Ofcom will then analyse all the data and publish the findings in spring 2018.

Data from the first phase of the research has already been published and is available to view.

About the app

When a user downloads and installs the app, they will be asked some basic questions such as their age group, gender, occupation, postcode and home broadband availability.

The app automatically measures the performance of mobile and wifi networks; users don't need to manually run any tests. From time to time, users will be asked to briefly rate their feelings on the service, allowing for more detailed feedback. However, users can turn this function off at any time via the app menu should they wish.

Real-time data from the app is displayed on the app's home screen, so users can see for themselves exactly how their service is performing. This includes information on:

  • the current network technology the phone is using and the signal strength;
  • the proportion of time spent on the different network types (Wi-Fi, 2G, 3G and 4G);
  • the maximum download speed recorded over each wireless network type;
  • the dropped call ratio; and
  • network latency (response time) recorded over each wireless network type.

The app will log when other apps are in use to help us understand usage trends across volunteers. But it does not record precisely what other apps are being used for - for instance it would log that the YouTube app was opened, but not what was being watched.

Data protection and usage

We take data protection very seriously. Therefore, all users' data will be completely anonymised.

We are working with a technical partner on the project: P3 Communications. P3 has experience of collecting anonymised data for public companies - such as the German railway network, Deutsche Bahn, for which it helped develop a mobile coverage app. Data will be anonymised, and any data collected will not be attributable to any individuals. Participants can opt out of the research at any time by simply uninstalling the app.

Video

We have also produced a video to support the launch of the app, which you can watch below:

How do I take part?

You can download the app direct from the Google Play Store or by searching for “Ofcom Mobile Research”. Once installed, please follow the instructions. The app is also available in Welsh which you can select in the app's settings as your language choice.

This is open to all Android users in the UK so please also encourage your friends and family to install the app to help us gather as much data as possible.

If you have any questions, please contact mobileresearch.app@ofcom.org.uk.

More information on the research app is available in our FAQs.