Operators Need to Improve Mobile Web Experience

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Nearly half (45 per cent) of Internet users accessed the Internet via a mobile phone in 2011, according to new data released by ONS.

The information, which comes from the ONS opinions survey, shows that 71 per cent of 16-24 year old Internet users accessed the Internet via a mobile, the highest of any age group, up from 44 per cent in 2010. Internet users aged 65+, at 8 per cent, were least likely to access the Internet by a mobile. 38 per cent of all adults also accessed the Internet via another sort of mobile device, such as a laptop or tablet.

In 2011, 4.9 million people, or 13 per cent of Internet users, connected to wireless hotspots provided in public places such as restaurants, hotels or airports. This has almost doubled from last year when the number stood at 7 per cent.

Social networking is becoming ever more popular. Overall, 57 per cent of adult Internet users used online social networks in 2011, up from 43 per cent in 2010. 91 per cent of 16-24 year old Internet users now use social networking sites.

Among all households, 77 per cent now have access to the Internet, up from 73 per cent last year. 93 per cent of these access the Internet via an ADSL or cable broadband connection. However, it is notable that half of those without a household Internet connection said they didn’t have one because they ‘don’t need the Internet’.

Separate Internet access data, taken from the Labour Force Survey, show that in the second quarter of 2011, 8.73 million UK adults had never used the Internet. This was a decrease of 12,000 people since quarter one. The most likely age group to have never been online were over 75s (76.3 per cent). Over one-third of disabled people (36.8 per cent) also say they have never been online.

Stephen Rayment, CTO at BelAir Networks, commented, “With mobile Internet users hitting 50%, the report confirms that people clearly have an insatiable appetite for mobile data and suggests this demand is set to wreak even more havoc across 3G networks, particularly in city areas.

Mobile operators are upgrading their networks through the forthcoming 4G auction to help address this but Ofcom has acknowledged it will not be enough. So, how will mobile operators meet this exponential demand for mobile Internet use? Ask most smartphone and tablet users what they do when the mobile networks are performing badly and most will tell you that they instead turn to Wi-Fi.

Mobile operators looking at this report should look to bring carrier-grade Wi-Fi into their networks or they risk providing a bad user experience.”