One third of rural customers unhappy with mobile services

Mobile mast

Around one third of mobile phone customers are unhappy with the service they received, according to the latest figures released by Ofcom.

While overall levels of customer satisfaction were high (around 76 per cent), this varied by location. Nearly eight in ten people (78 per cent) in urban areas were satisfied with their mobile network, compared to two-thirds (67 per cent) in rural areas of the UK and 70 per cent in remote areas.

Vodafone was found to be the worse for call quality, while EE came out top. According to RootMetrics data, 97.0 per cent of calls on the EE network were successfully connected, 95.3 per cent on O2, 94.5 per cent on Three and 92.6 per cent on Vodafone during the second half of 2013.

In rural areas, all operators fared worse. However, Vodafone yet again came out bottom of the class with only 79.9 per cent of calls successfully completed. EE topped the survey with 93.7 per cent of calls successfully placed. O2 managed 87.4 per cent while Three managed 86 per cent.

More than half (55 per cent) said they never or hardly ever had to put up with no mobile signal or reception, while nearly a third (30 per cent) said they suffered such problems at least every week.

Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister David Cameron complained earlier this summer about having to drive to the top of a hill while on holiday in Cornwall to be able to speak to other world leaders. The Prime Minister is a Vodafone customer.

A spokesman for EE said that it was "great to see" its ongoing investment was reflected in the report and this confirmed that it continues " to provide the best call experience across the UK, particularly in rural areas".

"We're investing hundreds of millions each year in expanding the reach of our network so that more people can make phone calls in more places," they added.

A spokesman from Vodafone said that the "previously published RootMetrics' report is based on old network measurements taken between June and December last year, which were disproved by more up-to-date findings in Spring 2014".

"Vodafone UK continues to invest heavily in its network and services, and we're spending 1billion alone this year to improve mobile coverage and quality. We have also just launched Rural Open Sure Signal to extend coverage in hard to reach rural locations," the spokesman added.

Ofcom said the data makes a case for mobile networks to continue to improve services, especially in rural areas. The regulator added it had agreed with all the networks on developing a common methodology for measuring the rates of calls successfully completed on their networks. It also said it was working with the government on a 150 million project to fund mobile masts in uncovered areas.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.