Consumer numbers increase for mobile broadband

YouGov, the international research and consultancy organisation, has revealed that awareness of mobile broadband amongst consumers now exceeds 80% of the population and is still increasing, yet customer satisfaction is decreasing.

According to YouGov’s Dongle Tracker January 2009 results, 81% of consumers surveyed were aware of mobile broadband, an increase of 10% since October 2008. Reasons for this increase can be attributed to a number of factors, including recent bundle incentives being offered by operators, whereby the consumer can purchase a mobile broadband dongle, a fixed line connection and receive a free laptop at the same time.

YouGov found that the number of people using or switching to mobile broadband is steadily increasing, but that the pattern of usage between consumer and business is changing. Traditionally businesses have been more frequent users of mobile broadband however usage patterns have shifted. Consumer use, which includes those who use mobile broadband for both personal and business use, has increased to 77% while purely business use has declined to 46%.

Yet one consequence of this increase is a capacity challenge for operators New technologies and applications such as social networking sites and the download and streaming of television programmes via broadband are creating a far greater demand on the networks. With high numbers of people using mobile broadband to access these services, operators will have to work hard to ensure that speed and reliability levels are kept high.

The Dongle Tracker findings show that consumers are becoming less satisfied with the quality of service they are receiving. The latest results report a significant decline in people’s perception of their ability to connect to the internet and to stay online without interruption.

Russell Feldman, research manager of YouGov’s technology and telecoms consulting team, said: “The increase in users of mobile broadband shows a steadily maturing market which is now obliged to make use of all its spare capacity. People now rate internet access as a necessity, even above their mobile phones, which means that mobile broadband operators will have to take note of rising reliability and speed issues. This is something we know forward thinking operators have made plans to address already.”

The study found T-Mobile to be the most consistent mobile broadband operator, constantly performing well in all three quarterly series of YouGov’s Dongle Tracker Report. T-Mobile was placed second overall in research conducted in June and October 2008. This latest report ranks T-Mobile first for nine customer satisfaction measures, including value for money; reliability during the day; upload speeds; download speeds; getting connected; ease of use; billing; installation and customer services.