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

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 …

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Data is by far the most important thing to me now (as I imagine it might be for most smartphone users). Most operators give me ridiculous amounts of minutes and texts that I don't ask for and never use and then a tiny amount of data.

I would happily pay less and get less calls/texts or even go back to PAYG so long as I can have a few GB of data. I know that's not the kind of freedom they would allow though. I'm sure I wouldn't be as profitable to them as I am when I have to pay for things I don't use.

A very similar situation to my home phone line that I pay monthly line rental for as well as a calls package - the cheapest one of course - just so I can have broadband. I never use the phone as a phone. In other countries of Europe you can just get broadband on the line and not pay for a phone.

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Happy

I know there are reasons to not use them, but I find giffgaff.com cheap for what they offer, unlimited data for £12 a month is good, you get 250 mins as well and unlimited texts. They are based on the O2 network and have had some issues, but down time has been in the hours for me in the last 7 months and the offer is a good one.

You can't tether with that offer, if they do a £10 1Gb data 250 mins and unlimited calls that you can tether.

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Here in Switzerland I can choose what I want on a contract package (any combination of voice, sms and data) with Orange. So I have 0 calls, 0 texts, 1GB data, and then I can use viber / skype for calls, whatsapp + whatever else for texts. Doesn't always work as desired as VOIP is still not up to proper voice call standard, but it's usually decent enough and they're not extorting money from me for stuff I won^t use anyway

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"In other countries of Europe you can just get broadband on the line and not pay for a phone."

Sadly not in all of them. Here in France it proved impossible to get ADSL2+ without also taking landline service. A colleague said that it used to be possible, but they changed the rules after he had got ADSL. This meant that he was, in theory at least, unable to unsubscribe from his ADSL service when he moved - he needed to provide a landline number for the line that carried the ADSL, and he didn't have one! (No, sorry, I don't remember how he resolved it.)

The practical result of this is that I have three phone numbers - one 03 number on the landline, one 09 number for the IP-linked phone on the Livebox, and one 06 number on the mobile. The only one I use is the mobile. Occasionally I get marketing calls on the 09 number, but that doesn't count as me using it. The 03 number doesn't even have a phone connected to it.

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" and then a tiny amount of data."

Last year Three mobile stepped up to this crap about data tarrifs, with All-you-can-eat-data! i joined three last year because of this.... now i have a smartphone and my own portable personal broadband hotspot, which they allow... 100% awesome.

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Anonymous Coward

have had some issues

They're a bunch of bungling amateurs. Awful. And dirt cheap.

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Unhappy

Personally, I'd love to cut off the landline. And to stop paying £15.50/month extortion money for having a landline at all, even if it's never used and is run by a different provider.

What are the odds on Ofcom jumping on THAT little abuse of the customer?

And @j arthur rank - giffgaff seem to attract a great deal of hate, not least from the author of this article (see Reg passim). Personally, I've had no problems with them.

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Re: " and then a tiny amount of data."

Until they change the T&Cs without warning... that's why I left them

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WTF?

Well...

...you might say that, I wouldn't.

Yes, there have been some problems, but with careful thought it is easy to work round most of them. Had a couple of short outages in 18 months plus almost a day out of service when the flooded data centre occurred.

But I wouldn't recommend them to people that don't understand phones/networks/web/internet fairly well.

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Vic
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> They're a bunch of bungling amateurs. Awful.

They've been absolutely fine for me.

> And dirt cheap.

Yep.

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

All I want:

Clear, minimalist, intelligible, stable, common pricing system. Something so easily understood it would allow easy direct comparison between companies. No hidden charges. No scamming: No hidden caps/restrictions/"fair use traps"/wacky "plan" schemes/"overages"/whatever.

That really is all.

Simples.

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Unhappy

Well....

Although I generally find the service provided by the various, (err), providers satisfactory, I would like those providers to actually provide a better - than what it seems - 20kbp/s VOIP, (with additional added noise), facility when talking to their support people.

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Joke

"readers will be shocked to find that only the Scots rated price as more important"

Shocked????? Surely that's the understatement of the millennium!

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DN4
WTF?

Re: "readers will be shocked to find that only the Scots rated price as more important"

I'm so shocked that I read the sentence several times and still don't understand...

The price of WHAT is more important than WHAT, if not calls and text?

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@DN4 (was: Re: "readers will be shocked to find that only the Scots rated price as more important")

Note to my fellow Yanks ... Apocryphally, the Scots are known to be rather tight with their money. Personally, I find Yorkshiremen to be tighter wi' t'brass than the Scots. I've had more drams bought for me in the Highlands than I've had pints bought for me in the Dales.

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Re: @DN4 (was: "readers will be shocked to find that only the Scots rated price as more important")

"Personally, I find Yorkshiremen to be tighter wi' t'brass than the Scots."

And those from Lincon are even tighter. :)

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Joke

Re: @DN4 (was: "readers will be shocked to find that only the Scots rated price as more important")

As a Yorkshire-born friend of mine says "Scotsman... That's the name given to a generous Yorkshireman!"

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Facepalm

"the regulator is required to monitor performance of the network operators "

Shame it doesn't seem to have to do anything about said performance afterwards.

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I have a smartphone and a dumb phone I don't make any calls at all from my smartphone. (Battery life is not sufficient for me to know when I want to call someone I will be able to).

If I could have something like a razer max with dual sim I might use a single device until then I won't

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Anonymous Coward

Hrm

I pay for a couple of gigs per month, and generally use about half a gig. I also get 200 minutes and 2000 texts, and never scratch the surface on those. I think I'm probably a mildly profitable customer, and the usage patterns are very similar to a lot of people that I know. Upping the prices of data would just make me use less, or ponce wifi more often, I think.

I'm certainly not paying through the nose to stay out of the stoneage. I love my smartphone, having email and the like in my pocket, but having survived without it before, know it's less important than food, shelter etc..

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Meh

What I really need

is more data with 100 minutes and 50 texts. I doubt I will do half that many texts though.

What I actually get is decent (if not always as fast as I would like) data, a ridiculous number of minutes (possibly 500) and unlimited texts. The only contracts that don't have this excessive number of minutes and texts offer enough data for 1 or 2 days only and would have caused me to pay through the nose for my smartphone.

When I said what I wanted, they acted as if I had made a joke and offered me even more minutes!

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A Wider Range of Needs Than Carriers want to support?

I can see that there are some very different needs on this subject. OK some of you need only data, I have no need for data and doubt that I will ever use mobile data, voice and a few texts does me fine.

What I do need is a better range of usable handsets, or to be specific at least one usable handset. Why oh Why has the voice dependant calling been removed from hand sets?

I am forced to use an old handset so that I can continue to use one touch, bluetooth hands free calling. The 'wonderful' new hand set can only do things I do not want or need. Of course it has to be taken out of whatever pocket its in before doing anything. Then there is the challenging two handed finger flicking with so called touch - try that when you walk with crutches!

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Meh

I mostly use mine to listen to music and take pictures. I also read email on it fairly regularly.

Phone calls - not often.

Internet - hardly ever.

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T Mobile gripes

Currently arguing with T Mobile about unexplained £1 deductions from PAYG balance. Feasibly apps have been updating themselves spontaneously -- my annoyance is that this incurs a minimum charge that assumes I want to go online for 24hrs.

Of course that rate is daylight robbery -- and I'm not even aware when it happens, so I'm paying £1 for about 3mins online, about 350mb of data.

Currently, have disabled smartphone, put SIM in an ancient Nokia and will boycott T Mobile until an explanation is forthcoming. If it is apps, the alternative is to cough up £40 p.a. for 500mb a month -- which is not bad, but I'd rather not as I don't really need internet on my phone.

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Re: T Mobile gripes

Silly question - why haven't you just turned off the mobile data network on the phone, so the apps can't update unless you're on wifi?

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Re: T Mobile gripes

@ Gio Campa

I have 3G turned off and can't find any other setting which might help.

GPS is set to satellite only -- that was the only app I was of aware of that could connect to phone masts without asking permission. The whole thing remains a puzzle unless T Mob are prepared to find out what the data was for.

So far they have refunded £1 but I wouldn't be surprised if this is just accompanied by a letter saying that it was done as a goodwill gesture and with no further info, just like last time.

I think I'll write to the CEO suggesting that they restructure pricing so that accidental or unintended connections of such miniscule duration are not penalised so ferociously.

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What I want? Simplicity and honesty.

A nice clear price/contract. No more "unlimited (but only while standing on one leg, excludes use with applications we don't like and use between 9 am and 5pm)": cap it at 10 Mb if they must, but that 10 Mb contract should mean you can actually use that 10 Mb, whether it's for your smartphone downloading a few kilobytes of email every hour or two over a month or streaming a brief burst of HD video to your giant TV from a connected tablet.

Giffgaff's absurd contortions over "unlimited (we can't really afford to do it, but we want to pretend we can by adding other silly limits instead) data" really irritated me, as a long-standing customer. O2 charge them by the megabyte on a wholesale level - so pass that on. Don't claim "unlimited" then have to ham-string it to stop anyone being able to use "too much" - and don't slap arbitrary restrictions on what sort of device those bytes are going into, either.

No more discrimination between tablets, handsets, dongles or personal hotspots: a byte's a byte. No discrimination between applications, either: a VOIP call or video stream might not work well for technical reasons (latency, jitter etc or plain old speed limitations), but they shouldn't be allowed to attempt to restrict that.

Oh, and BAN sim locking (if I buy a handset with a contract to pay £20/month for two years, yes, insist on getting the money - but don't restrict the handset as a ham-fisted way of trying to force me to keep coughing up) and tethering restrictions (Apple/Giffgaff, I'm glaring at you here!)

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What I'd rate them on / what I'd like to see

1. No unreasonable underhand charges (35p per minute or part thereof for Answerphone-access [Orange] - 10-12p/min is tolerable, but should really come out of inclusive minutes on predominantly voice-contract; £15 step-charge for going a few MB over a multi-GB monthly data allowance on a data-contract [Vodafone])

2. Option to have text notification of imminent exceeding of data-bundles sent to a phone/device other than the device at the centre of the contract (e.g. to a phone handset rather than the data-dongle)

3. 24hr support for network-related issues

4. Acknowledgement that network faults can and do occur. Three and Orange have no specfic means to report faults or suspected faults, and they do not acknowledge such issues (masts down etc) on their websites.

5. Transparency about what's permitted or incurs additional charges on data packages (e.g. Skype)

6. For data connections, not just raw throughput, but ping-times [Three consistently quicker than Voda in my experience] and propensity to mangle (proxy) data connections [in my experience Voda causes spurious delays and random http 504 errors (4+ years now) and web pages which just intermittently never get returned (including some banking sites)].

7. A commitment from telecos to resolve longstanding issues (see 6) rather than constantly deny them or fob folks off with try updating this, that, or the other, try in a different location, try standing on your head etc etc.

8. Admission from the phone co when there's some fundamental problem, e.g. which is stalling data to dial-up modem speeds (40kbps) for much of the evening for months on end, despite excellent signal strength [Orange].

9. Greater flexibility with contracts - e.g. more shorter-term/flexible options rather than 2-year contracts (which have to be paid in full if you quit early) even when there's no appreciable device-subsidy.

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Simplicity

I second the call to get rid of silly tethering restrictions. If you pay a fair price for the data, it really shouldn't matter whether you're tethering or what device you've popped the SIM card in for this hour or that.

When you've got 3-4 data contracts (different networks; redundancy/backup!), 3 data-dongles, 2 'main' voice phones (different networks), an Android tablet (at present, strictly for data: apps/web on-the-go), and a few more live PAYG phones on-hand (you never know), and a few loose SIM-cards sitting on the Rubiks cube next to the monitor ... it does get a bit confusing remembering what you can do with which.

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Pint

Simplicity of Billing and visibility of minutes/data-allowance used and remaining

They force direct-debit, paper-free billing - but make it very awkward to get to your bill on the website. Every bill (for the past year at least) should listed on a single web-page, downloadable by a straightforward right-click "save as".

It should also be possible to EASILY sign up to a PDF bill by email, sent automatically, monthly.

Voda and/or Orange require you to jump through multiple hoops to download bills, multiple steps forwards and backwards if you want to get several month's-worth in one go, websites that fail miserably if you start trying to simplify things by spawning multiple tabs, proprietary not-quite-PDF browser-plugins that won't save the document easily, email-it-to-me things that don't work, spurious choices of "full" vs "complete" vs "4-page" bill, click-to-proceed buttons which are located beyond the default border of the popup window (needs resizing even to see the button).... ARRRGGGGHHHHHH!

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Stop blocking Voip

Tmobile and O2 both do this.

Blocking arbitrary protocols means it isn't Internet and Ofcom needs to force them to stop calling what they provide "internet" if stuff is blocked.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stop blocking Voip

Wouldn't offering/selling a product but quietly crippling it so that it can't function correctly and thus offer an alternative to another (much more expensive) service which you're offering/selling in tandem with it fall foul of some sort of "trade descriptions", "advertising standards", "fair trading", "industrial regulation" or similar legislation? I'm glad we have no such legislation to "protect" us. That would be horribly Orwellian. Talk about "nanny state". No, what we need is legislation to hoard and monitor all our personal communication, castrate "the press" (such as is left of it) and remove our right to express dissent.

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