back to article Brit mobile phone users want the Moon on a stick but then stay on same networks for aeons

Chinese brands have been eyeing Western markets for some time, but in the UK customer inertia means many punters stick with what they know. RootMetrics' consumer survey of UK mobile shows just how much. More than half of the UK's big four mobile network customers have been with their carrier for two years or more. O2 …

  1. James 51 Silver badge

    If EE introduce eSIMs are one acount split across multiple sim then I'll be getting a contract with them next. Otherwise, it's going to be a matter of who has the most data for the least cost. If a network really pushed for no not-spots that would be the one to jump for but with diminishing returns long since set in it's hard to see any network making a big push on that.

    1. skalamanga

      I still see zero information on any carriers supporting sim twinning in the uk

  2. Big_Boomer

    Voda

    I was with Voda for years (1997-2013) and only moved in the end because their coverage got worse and worse. When I complained they tried to sell me a microcell box to improve the coverage at home for £60, and when I asked for my PAC code I got 45 minutes of them desperately trying to offer me worse deals than just about every other network. In then end I said that they had 2 minutes to provide the PAC code or my next call would be to OFCOM and the press. That finally got me the PAC.

    Have been with Tesco since, coverage (O2 network) is better than Voda, service is 1000% better (support team are excellent), and I'm paying a small fraction of what I used to. Shop around, it's easier than you think to move networks and there are some great deals out there.

    1. jmch Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Voda

      "When I complained they tried to sell me a microcell box to improve the coverage at home for £60"

      I'm living in Switzerland. When we moved house last year, coverage inside our new apartment was awful and I complained to my provider (Salt) about it. They sent me a microcell box* for free, no questions asked. I love the customer service here!

      *actually, through some administrative error, they ended up sending me 2

  3. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
    Coat

    I think what most affects which network you go with depends on coverage in your local area.

    for years, the only network that gave reliable indoor coverage where I live is three.. at one point the local mast was destroyed when the building it was on went up in flames. After complaining about the poor signal, three gave me a little box that plugs into my broadband and fixed the problem. I also got a reduction in price of my monthly bill. so I get 4gb data, unlimited texts and more call time than I use for £4.19 per month. They keep trying to get me to upgrade, but no chance, I'll just buy a handset. It would take a lot for me to switch and go elsewhere...

    now which pocket did i put it in?

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      "I think what most affects which network you go with depends on coverage in your local area."

      Same here. The only network that covered my home was Vodafone (provided you stood by a window on the right side of the house), so I got a contract with them.

      These days I live about 500m from a mast, so all the networks work equally well, but every time I've tried to leave Voda they've offered me an even better deal, and as yet they've not messed anything up bad enough to make me want to leave.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        That's been my experience with them too, and I've even found that not-spots are rare.

        When the provider you have is the one that offers you the best deal, then why switch?

  4. DailyLlama

    I was with BT Cellnet (yes, that long ago) and all was fine until I changed jobs, and couldn't get a signal in the office I worked at. Some of the people there were on Vodafone, so I switched to them. Only to find that I couldn't get a signal at home...

    After a couple of years, Three started up, and I joined them, and found that I could get a signal both at home and at work, so I've been with them ever since, through two further jobs, and a house move.

    1. Munkstar

      The reason quite a few move or stay!

  5. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    Mobile?

    Why swiitch?

    The problem is economics 101 and Ofcom (or Comreg in Ireland.)

    It costs money to build and run more masts in areas with poor coverage. It costs MUCH more to increase speed (capacity really) as you have to split a cell into many more smaller cells (3 to 9).

    Why would any operator do that if it doesn't bring extra revenue? Extra capacity won't and extra coverage only added where they think they'll get enough new customers.

    It's MOBILE. Make it illegal to have deals that undercut fixed broadband. Fixed users make performance and coverage worse for real mobile users.

    Mandate USO for fixed broadband and Mobile.

    Ban "Up to". Peak time average and minimum speeds should be quoted on all adverts of Broadband and Mobile,

    The problem is that the regulators want to maximise the income from selling spectrum licences, not provide universal coverage at decent speed. So licence conditions are lax. In many cases the regulators only use operator supplied data on coverage and speed (capacity).

    The greed of Governments to have the licence revenue and lip service to regulator independence created the problem.

    In many cases there is no value in switching Mobile, Broadband, Electricity, Gas, Banks, Credit Cards or Pay TV other than misleading "Introductory offers" paid for by the other subscribers. Ban introductory offers and below cost offers (Hello Three Data plans, esp. in Ireland!).

  6. jmch Silver badge

    "Why would any operator do that if it doesn't bring extra revenue? Extra capacity won't..."

    It's usual practice to charge users more for a mobile package that has either more data volume or higher speed, or both. So if you want extra revenue by selling more capacity, the network has to have more capacity in the first place.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      more for a mobile package that has either more data volume or higher speed

      I've never seen packages offering higher speed on Mobile. Not since GSM dual channel use. It's not really feasible to partition like that. There is no assurance on 3G that a cell won't shrink as more users stream and then you can't connect. Unlike real broadband, the fact that it IS mobile means a mast can be fast (only you) or pig slow (10 other people in same sector). Public mobile essentially has no control over contention. They only offer packages which offer more data, or more minutes etc. That actually reduces the speed if it's used up. Read how mobile and fixed wireless contention works.

      That's why decent quality (=good speed) fixed wireless "broadband rural extensions" might have only 60GByte 30 day limit compared to nearly unlimited on cable, fibre and DSL. Unlimited on broadband is in practice 500GByte to 2TByte regular usage. Cable use contention is number of users on a segment, what they are doing and backhaul. With migration to HFC and segments being a 1/4 of a street instead of a neighbourhood the cable is now able to be easily > 150Mbps at peak time. DSL speed is limited by cable length and multipair cross talk. DSL contention is set by backhaul capacity.

      1. ARGO

        Re: more for a mobile package that has either more data volume or higher speed

        >It's not really feasible to partition like that.

        It is possible on 4G. And 5G is specifically designed to offer that. While there's nobody in the UK selling premium speed packages on mobile, I'm aware of several countries where it is available.

        There are also some networks that offer premium speeds at certain times of day (like economy 7 did for electricity) in an effort to even out network load.

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: more for a mobile package that has either more data volume or higher speed

        "I've never seen packages offering higher speed on Mobile"

        Again, this is Switzerland not UK, but I've seen packages where for example you get 1GB a month of data at 4G speeds, after which you get "all you can eat" at 3G speeds. Or you pay more and get "all you can eat" at 4G. On teh technical side, I'm not sure if they are really forcing users onto 3G or else throttling their 4G connection to 3G-like speeds.

        But it DOES happen, here at least.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: more for a mobile package that has either more data volume or higher speed

          It's possible to do it even on 3G by restricting the RAB combinations available to a user via policy (limits could be 64, 144, 384kbps, IIRC). Early UMTS did this at least until it became ubiquitous

  7. Chris Miller

    "O2 customers are the slowest to upgrade their phones, despite being the first to decouple the hire purchase of the phone from the airtime."

    I'm with O2, paying only for airtime because I don't need (or want to pay for) a new phone every 24 months.

  8. tiggity Silver badge

    How are stats gathered

    It mentioned a company called RootMetricss this phones purchased via the mobile providers?

    Was it just a survey?

    Or is data gained in some more accurate way?

    .. Not sure how it would deal with people like me, who have SIM only deals, a couple of sims & often move them between phones.

    1. Older Not Wiser

      Re: How are stats gathered

      It's a well established independent analysis done in multiple countries. Take a look here.....

      http://www.rootmetrics.com/en-GB/methodology

      EE seems to win-out in most of the Quarterly surveys up to now, but that's not unsurprising given the amount of investment they've made.

  9. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Or maybe how you ask it.

    "Or maybe how you ask it."

    And that's why most survey results should be taken with a pinch of salt. Few surveys are independent. There's almost always in "interested party" paymaster who wants results that show them in a good light or helps sell product. How a question is asked can very easily be manipulated to guide the interviewee to a certain answer with some good level of probability. Pollsters are masters at this.

    1. Woza
      Pint

      Re: Or maybe how you ask it.

      "Pollsters are masters at this."

      Particularly pollsters called Humphrey.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0ZZJXw4MTA

    2. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Or maybe how you ask it.

      For the results of any survey to be regarded as robust, the suite of questions asked must also be provided. Otherwise, it is as you say, basically a crock of shit.

    3. Claverhouse Bronze badge

      Re: Or maybe how you ask it.

      @John Brown (no body)

      "Or maybe how you ask it."

      And that's why most survey results should be taken with a pinch of salt. Few surveys are independent. There's almost always in "interested party" paymaster who wants results that show them in a good light or helps sell product. How a question is asked can very easily be manipulated to guide the interviewee to a certain answer with some good level of probability. Pollsters are masters at this.

      Depends on the total cost of ownership.

  10. ifekas

    customer service

    I have been with O2 for many many years, even though they may not necessarily be the best for data speeds; the reason is great customer service as a retail customer regardless of whether one goes to the O2 retail shop or phones customer services.

    I partly deal with the work mobile phone accounts, and find Vodafone truly dreadful, and EE not that great. Interestingly though, the O2 corporate customer tariffs and customer service aren't great

  11. Field Commander A9

    Good for you westerners.

    Switching network carrier is a trivial action for you already.

    In China, you have to change to a new phone number when switching to another network carrier.

  12. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Faffing around,....

    "More than half of the UK's big four mobile network customers have been with their carrier for two years or more."

    So, this is usually me, because I tell my wife when our contracts are about to expire, and she faffs a bit, choosing her next phone, and we often go over a 2 year contract by a month or two.

    We're out of current contracts mid July, and I'll be going SIM only, as my old Note4 is adequate, and none of the newer models take my fancy. Hopefully I'll be able to pull this one off on time, as there's no handset to choose, just PAC and new SIM.

  13. skalamanga

    Whoever will offer me unlimited tethering while roaming through Europe, the americas and Oceania, for a reasonable price and ensure the bandwidth is acceptable will get my next contract. Until then, I have zero reason to change.

  14. Munkstar

    The agony factor of limbo ... you have your PAC code, you give it to the new operator and ... ‘maybe next Tuesday leave your phone off all day then turn it on’. Why are transfer times so long?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019