Broadband News

Users are unhappy at mobile broadband speed and coverage

Over the last few weeks, we've been running some polls which have revealed some interesting facts about what you think about mobile broadband. The results are quite worrying as 76% of you told us that you're unhappy with the speeds you're receiving and 60% of you felt mobile broadband coverage was poor.

From general discussion, we have been aware of problems with mobile broadband expectations, particularly speeds, and we experience issues ourselves trying to log in to write news for example, but we were surprised that only 3% of you thought mobile broadband coverage was 'excellent'. That indicates the networks have a huge task ahead in both educating customers as to what to expect from mobile broadband, and improve service.

Back in July, we asked 1,300 of you where you most used your mobile broadband, and the results show differences across mobile network operators. Virgin Mobile users were by far the largest 'at home' users with 78% of users telling us that is where they mainly use their mobile broadband connection. Orange users were second at 60%. The poll also shows that Vodafone and T-Mobile users were the most likely to use their broadband 'on the move', probably one of the strongest mobile broadband selling points.

  Where do you use it most?  
  At Home At work  On Holiday On the Move Responses
3 31% 13% 12% 44% 215
O2 46% 8% 2% 44% 384
Orange 60% 7% 2% 31% 204
T-Mobile 31% 14% 2% 53% 133
Virgin 78% 4% 2% 16% 178
Vodafone 24% 15% 10% 51% 219

Of those taking part, 1 in 10 of Three and Vodafone users use mobile broadband on holiday, we presume in the UK. Mobile broadband is still quite expensive abroad, even with packages such as Vodafone Traveller, where traffic above 200MB is charged at £4.25/MB, which can quickly add up. Receiving an e-mail with an attachment could easily cost a fiver. Read our guide on using mobile broadband abroad.

The September poll on satisfaction attracted 770 responses:

QUESTION: What is your experience of UK mobile broadband coverage?
Excellent 3%
Adequate 30%
Poor 60%
Don't know 7%
QUESTION: Are you satisfied with UK mobile broadband speeds?
Yes 14%
No 76%
Unsure 9%
QUESTION: Do you know your mobile broadband usage limit?
(i.e. how much you can download)
II no longer use mobile broadband 12%
No - I don't know 13%
Yes - I know the limit/policy 57%
Yes - It's unlimited/unrestricted 18%


Roll on the creation of a single data transport fabric - fixed and mobile, something not referenced in Digital Britain, or ever mentioned by Ofcom.

Another spectrum heist is such a bad idea. It is licence to create scarcity.

Our connectivity is a three dimensional object - throughput, packet loss and jitter, thus the one dimensional reporting of speed will continue to cause disappointment and churn.

  • mikeblogs
  • over 11 years ago

Radio based broadband is always going to be constrained by the fact that the last hop (between mast and user) is contended. Each mast is sharing its bandwidth between all currently active users.

Mobile broadband also has to deal with signal loss from obstructions and increasing distance to mast.

It's fine for when you're on the move but I don't think anyone should consider mobile broadband to be a competitor to a fixed line.

  • AndrueC
  • over 11 years ago

It isn't that suprising that speeds are poor. I recently tested them a couple times:

For what it's worth, I recently returned from Austria and I have to say that coverage, speed and reliability kicked us hard.

  • therioman
  • over 11 years ago

Perhaps a question too should have been asked about price?

  • meldrew
  • over 11 years ago

I live in a small community where mobile broadband is the only option. Even with 92-100% signal strength, speeds vary from an acceptable 1800 down 300 up to an impossible 100 down to 100 up with frequent interruptions and disconnections. Backhaul is one thing, providing sufficient bandwidth from cells is another, and it is here that investment is clearly needed.

  • friendsofhalki
  • over 11 years ago

I recently cancelled my subscription to 3. I used the dongle when I was based in Canterbury last year, but my email provider (o2) would not always allow emails from 3 because the IP addresses were blacklisted; I would sometimes have to connect, disconnect and reconnect up to 20 times before successfully sending an email. The new dongle they sent me failed completely. I had no problem with download speed.

  • barsinister
  • over 11 years ago

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