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.