CCP argues mobile broadband still a distant dream for many

Tuesday, May 31st 2011
Many UK consumers can still not access mobile broadband.
CCP argues mobile broadband still a distant dream for many
Mobile broadband services are nothing more than a "distant dream" for many Brits, according to the Communications Consumer Panel (CCP).

The organisation made the comments in response to new research from Ofcom that revealed 17 per cent of UK households take advantage of dongles and data cards to access the web.

Some seven per cent now rely on mobile broadband as their sole means of browsing the internet, compared to three per cent in 2009.

But for the technology to benefit a larger proportion of the population, network operators must first look to boost their current levels of coverage, CCP acting chair Bob Warner argued.

He said: "To achieve a mobile broadband connection, people need to have mobile coverage. But too many people still have poor or non-existent mobile coverage for voice calls and text - for them the opportunities offered by a mobile broadband connection are currently a distant dream."

Ofcom's study investigated whether or not performance varied in different locations by conducting a series of speed tests in Birmingham, between Manchester and Liverpool, Swansea and the rural areas of Shropshire and Herefordshire.

Although it found urban services were better than those in rural properties - thanks largely to stronger 3G coverage - the regulator discovered connections were still "highly variable" in towns and cities.

Despite the amount of money spent by the likes of 3 Mobile, O2 and Vodafone on infrastructure upgrades, the UK's telecoms industry watchdog also declared there was "no guarantee of good performance offered in a city centre location".

Slower download speeds and data limits mean mobile broadband may be unsuitable for some 'heavy' broadband users, Ofcom claimed, while online services that require high levels of responsiveness - such as gaming - could also function poorly on some 3G connections.

However, the organisation noted the technology can be cheaper than fixed-line broadband, as it does not require a landline. 

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