Mobile operators need to improve the availability and accessibility of their coverage checkers so consumers can choose the best operator for their area, new research by telecoms regulator Ofcom has claimed.
According to research by the watchdog, although operators usually manage to provide ‘reasonably accurate’ coverage data for outdoor predictions, more information needs to be made widely available in a bid to provide more clarity for consumers.
The study revealed that despite nine out of 10 consumers finding mobile coverage checkers easy to use and relevant and a further eight in 10 believing that they were useful in making supplier comparisons, only three in 10 consumers actually knew that such checkers existed.
The report, which studied mobile coverage for consumers with a focus on voice-based phone calls, examined call completion and set-up using basic entry-level mobile phones (2G-only) and the latest smartphones (2G and 3G).
It follows concerns raised by stakeholders about mobile ‘not-spots’- areas where people cannot access mobile services due to lack of coverage – and the launch of the BBC’s first independent survey to measure mobile phone coverage in the UK.
Meanwhile, after testing 3G smartphones and 2G feature phones in both urban and rural areas, analysts found that although there was no real difference in the built-up areas, feature phones outperformed smartphones in rural areas.
Ofcom attributed this difference in performance to reduced complexity of the antenna on 2G devices, and the fact that these 2G handsets didn’t suffer with problems when switching between 2G and 3G networks.
Ofcom now plans to forward its recommendations to mobile operators and relevant third parties.
The watchdog has already updated its Maximise your Coverage guide to outline its recommendations to consumers.