The research demonstrated that almost three quarters of respondents (74%) showed their support of an active approach to fairness aimed at distributing bandwidth between as many people as possible to ease congestion to benefit all users. Some respondents even agreed they would be happy to pay a small fee for this if it meant a better broadband service (49%).
"Content optimisation is a second area where operators can improve user experience," said van Zanen. "While video is becoming increasingly popular, with over a third of consumers questioned (36%) accessing the data-hungry video sites via their mobile connection, the research highlighted that the quality of video services across mobile broadband performed particularly badly on a frequent basis."
For example, the research highlighted that of those consumers accessing video services, over half (63%) of consumers experienced frequent pauses and, as many as 55% of video users experienced these problems on a regular basis. With video playback causing consumers problems, 48% agreed that they would be happy for their mobile operator to apply content adaptation policies such as reducing the size of videos being watched, if that ensured the video would playback without stalling/buffering and they were not able to see a difference in the video being played.
"This demonstrates that a majority of users would accept an optimisation policy which decreases video size in order to warrant uninterrupted playback. These video issues are all the more relevant as regular video users have a 9% higher ARPU then average users as they are consistently among the most active users of email, browsing, upload, video, music and online gaming services," continued van Zanen.
This research also showed untapped potential for operators to differentiate their mobile broadband services, with a number of consumers stating they would be willing to pay a small fee to receive services such as data roaming packages when out of the country (58%); notifications when they have reached a certain spend limit on their mobile broadband service (56%); the option to update their bandwidth capacity when needed (49%); and the ability to set spending limits on their mobile broadband account (44%).
"Mobile broadband is a frequent topic of debate with UK consumers," said Marek Vaygelt, head of consumer, technology and telecoms consulting, YouGov. "Mobile broadband growth has been faster than its fixed-line counterpart, with usage increasing rapidly over the last few years. However, user habits have also changed with more focus on video and downloading data than simple web browsing. The research conducted for Acision clearly highlights that many consumers are suffering regular and significant problems with their mobile broadband and can be frustrated with the service they receive. It is also apparent that if approached in the right way, consumers may be open to content adaptation, service differentiation as well as the option of having bandwidth distributed fairly amongst all users to provide a better service."
"With recent announcements from mobile operators on data capping and new transparent pricing models, it is clear we have reached a juncture in the future of mobile broadband services. The cost of offering high-quality mobile broadband at flat fees is becoming increasingly difficult for operators and making it hard for them to recoup investments and operating costs," continued van Zanen. "However, analysis of user spend on mobile broadband demonstrates a very wide range of spend levels. This provides ample space for differentiated packages and pricing points, which can be set by operators and enables fairness for all."
"Our research indicates that while more needs to be done to raise customer satisfaction levels in mobile broadband services and provide better education on available packages, we can see there is broad consumer support to deploy capabilities to define fairness for all users, content adaptation and service differentiation. By acting now and asserting control over mobile data, operators have a solid base to raise satisfaction and loyalty levels while at the same time decreasing customer churn and providing a brighter mobile broadband future," concluded van Zanen.