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Ofcom: You like to make CALLS, yeah? Tell us what you want from mobiles

Watchdog asks users for metrics to help it rate operators

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Ofcom has discovered that mobile phones are used for making calls, and that mobile data is generally used to access the internet, so now it wants help deciding what to find out next.

The shock revelation that calls and text remain the killer feature of a mobile phone is contained in Ofcom's study of the mobile experience, which was slipped out alongside a call for ideas on which metrics the regulator should be gathering to help members of the general public decide which network operator best meets their needs.

The key findings of the report only serve to demonstrate that better research methods are needed: we're told that voice and text remain central, that mobile data is used for internet access and that people in cities use mobile telephones more than those living in the countryside, astonishing facts that obviously need wider exposure.

No doubt that's why the report (PDF, lots of charts) was slipped out as an adjunct to a consultation on better ways to measure the user experience, and on the same day the 4G auctions kicked off.

Last November Ofcom spoke to more than 2,000 mobile users, in face-to-face interviews, to discover that most mobile internet access happens outside and half of those polled have experienced reception problems which annoyed them.

There are some interesting snippets amongst the obvious: only 44 per cent have ever accessed the internet on a mobile phone, and 12 per cent report making at least one video call on their mobile, but calls and text messages remain the critical factor in picking a network for the majority of users (readers will be shocked to find that only the Scots rated price as more important).

It's easy to take the piss out of Ofcom's intelligence gathering, but the regulator is required to monitor performance of the network operators and that's a hard thing to do, which is why it's asking for opinions on better ways. The information can come from the operators, or be collected by Ofcom or even crowd-sourced using apps installed by volunteers, but some some combination of those is probably best.

Feedback on the regulator's thoughts (PDF, repeating some of the charts, but with conclusions) is requested by the 1 April, but Ofcom is also considering a workshop if regional consumer reps or other interested parties would like to come along - registering interest by Valentine's Day. ®

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