The consumer mobile experience
This report summarises data collected from a panel of consumers who have downloaded an app onto their Android smartphone, which measures the performance of their voice and data connections, collects information about how they use their device and asks the user about their perception of the quality of the connection. This is our second report from this research; it uses data collected between September and December 2017.
- Three-quarters of the time, data connections were made to a wifi rather than to a cellular network, a six percentage point increase since 2016. There were no significant differences in this measure by rurality or nation.
- When consumers with access to 4G technologies connected to a cellular network, a 4G network was available for data use for 81% of the time (up from 65% in 2016), with consumers in urban areas spending significantly more time than those in rural areas on 4G networks. Consumers in Wales spent significantly less time connected to a 4G network than those in other nations.
- Consumers initiating a data connection to a 4G network were successful on 98.7% of occasions, compared to 93.1% of attempt to connect to a 3G network. Data connections were more likely to fail in peak periods for both 3G and 4G networks.
- The average download speed delivered varied significantly by application (less than 1Mbit/s for apps such as Chrome, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and WhatsApp on all network types vs. between 2.7 Mbit/s and 3.0 Mbit/s for YouTube and Google Play Store, over wifi and 4G).
- There was a strong correlation between the number of tests and the average download speeds for Chrome and YouTube on 4G networks, with speeds slowing down in peak hours.
- Once initiated, less than 1% of all voice calls were dropped due to loss of service, with no significant differences when comparing rurality, nations or network technologies.
- More than eight in ten Android smartphone users (84%) were satisfied with the overall network performance of their mobile provider, with satisfaction levels higher in urban areas and in England.
- Web browsing was rated as the most important activity that people used their phone for, followed by voice calls.
This research is part of a wider programme of work by Ofcom to research and provide information about mobile quality of service. The data in this report relate to performance when network coverage is available from an operator; however, the most important determinant of consumer experience is the availability of a mobile signal and the quality of this signal. Ofcom’s broadband and mobile checker app provides detailed information about mobile coverage from all four mobile network operators across the UK.
This report summarises the initial results from Ofcom’s new mobile research, which is designed to measure the consumer experience of using mobile services.
It provides information on data service availability, and the performance of mobile voice and data services.
The purpose of this first report is to present a high-level picture of the consumer experience of using mobile services, and it does not include data comparing the performance of mobile network operators. We will look to extend the scope of future reports to include comparisons of consumers’ experience by mobile network operator and location.
We welcome feedback on this report at firstname.lastname@example.org
Data service availability
- More than nine in ten mobile data downloads are successful for both 4G (95.6%) and 3G-only (92.4%) users.
- Almost seven in ten users (69%) are happy with their overall service, with 4G users more satisfied than 3G-only users (71% vs 60%).
- When using apps, 4G consumers are connected to Wi-Fi 69% of the time. When 4G users are connected to a cellular network, 65% of time is spent on a 4G network, 30% on 3G and 5% on 2G.
- Connection speeds when using YouTube and Chrome are faster over 4G than 3G, with Wi-Fi providing higher average speeds than both mobile technologies.
- 4G networks are more responsive than 3G (48ms vs 64ms response time). Wi-Fi is even more responsive at 27ms.
- Once initiated, less than 1% of all calls are dropped due to loss of service.
- Nine in ten (90%) panellists say they are happy with the performance of their network when making a call.
This research is part of a wider programme of work by Ofcom to research and provide information about mobile quality of service, which also includes our Smartphone Cities research and our broadband and mobile checker app.