Feeds

Consumer Panel recommends try before buy mobiles

Possible lifeline for not-spot dwellers

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Punters should be able to sign a mobile contract then revoke it if the coverage isn't up to scratch, according to recommendations from The Communications Consumer Panel.

The recommendation comes out of research that found 56 per cent of UK-mobile-phone users have experienced a lack of coverage, with a third having regular problems getting voice calls, let alone mobile broadband. However, the same research discovered that one per cent of mobile users "regularly" make video calls, so best not to take it too seriously.

The researchers asked 2000 people and 300 businesses about their mobile phone experiences and found that most of them had complaints of some sort (detailed pdfs available for consumers and businesses). The Panel reckons Ofcom has been so busy talking about mobile broadband that the regulator is neglecting basic voice services, which are actually more important to ordinary people.

Users complained to the Panel about dropped calls and simply finding themselves in spaces without any mobile coverage - 36 per cent of mobile users reckon they've been in a not-spot, with 18 per cent regularly wandering into radio voids.

Even allowing for the British predisposition towards complaining, those are damning figures - though the same questionnaire (pdf) discovered that five per cent of users make video calls on their phones, one per cent of them regularly. This hardly tallies with our experience, as we are yet to see anyone making a video call outside a technical demonstration.

The Communications Consumer Panel is appointed by Ofcom, but makes recommendations based on independent research from the customers' point of view. It is recommending that those buying a mobile phone should be allowed to take it home for a few days, after which they can return it for a full refund if the coverage isn't good enough.

The Panel also reckons that the legal issues around mobile telephony need clearing up. They point out that a ringtone paid for through a premium text is monitored by PhonepayPlus, while the same transaction completed by Credit Card falls outside their remit, which is unnecessarily confusing.

Ofcom did get praise for changing its coverage calculations: since August this year an operator has to provide signal in 90 per of a postcode to consider it covered, as opposed to the 75 per cent that was previously required. That drops England's 2G coverage to 99 per cent, Wales to 92 per cent, and leaves Scotland with only 89 per cent of postcodes covered, though even that leaves up to ten per cent of every postcode without coverage.

Which is what prompts the recommendation that customers should be able to return handsets. But while the recommendation might seem eminently sensible, it is unlikely that Ofcom has the appetite for a significant contest of wills with the operators right now. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.