2014 Mobile Data Survey – 60% Unsatisfied with Current Speeds

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on October 14, 2014, Press Releases

In October 2014, Tiger Mobiles carried out a survey of 4,300 smartphone users who had taken out a 3G or 4G enabled phone contract with at least 1GB of monthly data allowance in the last 12 months*. The survey quizzed respondents in a number of areas including their overall happiness with their current mobile data speed, what they believed the benefits of faster mobile internet were, how things have changed in the last 3 years and where mobile internet speeds would be in another 3 years’ time.

Context: Why This Mobile Internet Survey Was Undertaken

Tiger Mobiles realise that mobile internet is becoming more and more important for the consumer when choosing a phone contract. The reasoning for this report is as follows:

First, internet usage on the whole is growing exponentially:

  • According to Cisco Global Internet traffic in 2018 will be equivalent to 64 times the volume of the entire global Internet in 2005.
  • The same research states that over half of all IP traffic will originate with non-PC devices by 2018. In 2013, only 33% of total IP traffic originated with non-PC devices, but by 2018 the non-PC share of total IP traffic will grow to 57 =%. PC-originated traffic will grow at a CAGR of 10%, while TVs, tablets, smartphones, and machine-to-machine (M2M) modules will have traffic growth rates of 35%, 74%, 64%, and 84%, respectively.

Second, mobile data will playing a huge part in this increase:

  • Cisco also reveals that globally, mobile data traffic will increase 11-fold between 2013 and 2018. Mobile data traffic will grow at a CAGR of 61% between 2013 and 2018, reaching 15.9 exabytes per month by 2018.
  • Cisco also states that Global mobile data traffic will grow three times faster than fixed IP traffic from 2013 to 2018. Global mobile data traffic was 3% of total IP traffic in 2013, and will be 12% of total IP traffic by 2018.

You can read the Cisco Whitepaper here.

Third, the UK is currently in the middle of a 4G rollout from all the major network operators, all the major players have ambitious plans but rural areas are still lacking the speeds of those in urban areas.

  • EE are aiming to reach 90% of the UK with 4G by the end of 2014.
  • 02 plan to reach 98% of the population with 2G, 3G and 4G indoor and outdoor coverage before 2017 bringing high-speed connectivity to some areas that have never have had this access before.
  • Vodafone are on a mission to bring ultrafast 4G to 98 per cent of the UK population by the end of 2015.
  • Three aim to reach parts of 50 cities and many more towns by the end of 2014 and cover 98% of the UK population by the end of 2015.

With all that in mind this survey aims to help provide further information on the needs and expectations of UK smartphone users when it comes to mobile data.

Summary of Key Findings

Mobile Data Speeds and Expectations

  • 60% of respondents are dissatisfied with the data speed on their smartphone.
  • 82% of users expect websites to load as quickly on their smartphone via mobile data as they do via fixed line broadband.
  • However, over half (56%) said websites load more slowly on their smartphone.
  • 82% of those surveyed had a problem trying to load a website over a data connection in the last year whilst 79% had difficulty using apps that require a data connection to function properly.
  • 85% revealed they would access websites more often from their phone via mobile data if the experience was as fast and reliable.
  • 55% are dissatisfied with the overall reliability of mobile data.

Benefits of higher mobile data speeds

  • Overall, 49% say that faster mobile date speeds would help with their productivity.
  • 62% think it would allow them to get more use out of their smartphone.
  • 18% say that faster mobile data speeds would encourage their employer to offer more flexible and remote working opportunities.

The last 3 years in mobile internet – getting faster

  • Overall 16% believe that mobile data speeds have got significantly faster in the last 3 years, 43% believe speeds are slightly faster. By comparison just 4% believe they have got significantly slower.
  • Respondents in rural areas err more on the side of caution with 14% believing that data speeds have become slightly slower in the last 3 years.

The next 3 years – people anticipate speed increases

  • Overall 45% think that mobile data speeds will get significantly faster, 28% slightly faster and just 9% believing they will get slower in some capacity.
  • Urban respondents are the most upbeat with a combined 74% believing that mobile data will improve in speed over the next 3 years, compared to 65% of rural respondents.

The Full Survey Results

The Full Survey Results

The Full Survey Results

Satisfaction with Mobile Data Speeds

Of those surveyed the satisfactions levels tend be low, with people in all areas tending to be unhappy with the speed of their mobile data connection. Rural based survey respondents are particularly displeased.

Speed

  • Overall just 7% are very satisfied with their mobile data speeds, 14% are satisfied compared with a combined 60% being either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.
  • Respondents based in rural locations are particularly unhappy with 51% stating they are very dissatisfied with the mobile data speeds and a further 25% being dissatisfied.
  • Urban smartphone users are also unimpressed with only 16% being satisfied or better compared to 38% dissatisfied and 18% being very dissatisfied.

Satisfaction with Speed of Mobile Data

Reliability

Respondents living in urban areas on the whole tend to be more satisfied with the reliability of their mobile data connection but that is in huge contrast to those in rural areas.

  • Overall 28% of respondents are satisfied with the reliability of their mobile data connection compared to 55% dissatisfied.
  • Just 9% of rural respondents are satisfied or very satisfied. Compared to a combined 79% being dissatisfied or worse.
  • Urban users are slightly happier with a combined 33% being satisfied or very satisfied compared 50% being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

Satisfaction with Reliability of Mobile Data

Price

Price is a similar story to speed and reliability with rural respondents again tending to be more unhappy than those in urban areas.

  • Overall, 51% are very satisfied or satisfied with the price they are paying per month for their data allowance compared to 33% who are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.
  • Only 33% of rural respondents are satisfied or better with the price with 28% being very dissatisfied and a further 22% being dissatisfied.
  • Among urban respondents 57% of those surveyed are satisfied or very satisfied with the current price of their inclusive data allowance.

Satisfaction with Price of Mobile Data

Current User Expectations from a Mobile Data Connection

Overall, respondents have high expectations of mobile data speeds but are still having difficulties with reliability and overall performance.

  • Overall, 82% of users expect websites to load as quickly on their smartphone via mobile data as they do via fixed line broadband.
  • However, over half (56%) said websites load more slowly on their smartphone.
  • 82% of those surveyed had a problem trying to load a website over a data connection in the last year whilst 79% had difficulty using apps that require a data connection to function properly.
  • 85% revealed they would access websites more often from their phone via mobile data if the experience was as fast and reliable as fixed line broadband.

The Benefits of Faster Mobile Internet

Respondents of the survey believe that significantly faster mobile data connections would bring a range of benefits to the table:

  • Overall, 49% believe faster mobile date speeds would help with their productivity.
  • 62% think it would allow them to get more use out of their smartphone.
  • 18% say that faster mobile data speeds would encourage their employer to offer more flexible and remote working opportunities.
  • 52% believe that faster mobile data would make them less dependent on fixed line broadband.

We also asked recipients for their own words on the benefits and a word cloud of responses can be seen below:

Benefits of Faster Mobile Data

Trends Over Time

The United Kingdom is currently going through significant change with regards to mobile data connections. All the major network operators are rolling out faster speeds across the country with their 4G programs.

On the whole, survey respondents are generally pleased with speed improvements over the last 3 three years and despite still not being happy with current services are upbeat about improvements over the next 3 years.

Trends Over the Last 3 Years

Survey respondents are on the whole positive about mobile download speeds over the last 3 years.

  • Overall, 14% think that mobile internet speeds have got significantly faster and 42% think they have got slightly faster. On the other hand, 11% think that speeds have fallen slightly and 4% believe they have fallen significantly.
  • Rural respondents are again slightly more downbeat with 14% of the opinion speeds are slightly slower compared to just 10% believing the same in urban areas.
  • Urban users are again more positive about improvements over the last 3 years with a combined 59% saying that speeds have gotten faster in some capacity in the last 3 years.

Mobile Data Speeds Over Last 3 Years

Trends Over the Next 3 Years

Over the next 3 years all respondents are confident that mobile data speeds will rise:

  • Overall, 45% think that mobile data speeds will get significantly faster, 28% slightly faster and just 3% believe they will get significantly slower.
  • Of those based primarily in rural locations, 36% think they will get significantly faster, 28% slightly faster and just 3% significantly slower.
  • In the urban areas, 46% of those surveyed think speeds will be significantly faster, 28% slightly faster and again 3% significantly slower.

Mobile Data in 3 Years Time

Conclusion

Five key conclusions can be drawn from the survey:

  • First, on the whole current mobile data speeds are unsatisfactory and failing to meet the needs of both users in urban and rural areas.
  • Secondly, those living in rural areas tend be unhappier with their mobile data connection in terms of speed, price and reliability.
  • Third, the network operators rolling out 4G to as much of the country as possible is crucial for meeting user expectation and providing customers with faster and more reliable mobile data connections.
  • Fourth, the vast majority of respondents believe mobile data speeds will increase in the next 3 years, as a result user expectations for speed and reliability are going to increase exponentially.
  • Fifth, end users are going to place more and more importance on mobile data when purchasing a contract phone or SIM only deal. Usage allowances, signal strength in their primary area of use and overall speed will be the primary factors in their purchasing decision.

*Tiger Mobiles surveyed 4300 users who had purchased a 3G or 4G ready smartphone contract with at least 1GB of data allowance in the last 12 months. Respondents were surveyed between the 1st and 10th of October 2014. 2924 (68%) self-defined their primary smartphone usage as being in an urban location and 1376 (32%) self-defined their primary smartphone usage as being in a rural location. A weighted average is used to paint an ‘Overall’ picture.

Photo Credit 1, Photo Credit 2.