Service & Reliability Survey 2010: Mobile network operators

Summary:We asked our readers which mobile network operators they use, and how they rate call quality, coverage, speed, technical support, and more.


Which mobile network operators do you use?
We received information on network operators from 35 respondents. On average, the organisations they worked for used between one and two (1.6) network operators each, giving a total of 55 responses. Vodafone and O2 are the most widely cited operators:

Other network operators cited: BT, Manx Telecom, SFR, TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile), Virgin

The other leading UK network operators — Orange, T-Mobile and 3 — all received less than 10 responses in our survey. We have included them in the charts below, but do bear in mind the small sample sizes.

How do you rate the voice call quality from your mobile network operator?
Voice calls on mobile networks can suffer from impairments like background noise, echoes and voice distortion. Improving voice call quality is a priority for network operators at the moment, and both Orange and 3 are planning trials of High-Definition (HD) voice technology this year.

As far as our survey respondents are concerned, there's room for improvement in mobile voice call quality, with only a smattering of 'excellent' responses being logged. Nine out of thirteen O2 customers (69 percent) judge call quality to be 'good', while the majority of responses for the other operators are either 'good' or 'average':

How do you rate the mobile broadband coverage from your network operator?
Mobile data usage is on the increase, and mobile operators are constantly extending their network coverage to keep pace with demand — witness recent announcements from O2 and 3. But are they doing enough? Again, there certainly seems to be room for improvement, with both Vodafone's and O2's charts clustering around the 'average' category. Meanwhile, the three small-sample networks (3, Orange and T-Mobile) in our survey fail to muster an 'excellent' rating between them:

Check mobile broadband coverage in your area for Vodafone, O2, 3, Orange and T-Mobile using these links. For areas with poor coverage, Vodafone offers a 'femtocell' solution called Sure Signal. A femtocell is a mini-mobile base station with limited range that routes calls and data over the customer's fixed broadband connection.

How do you rate the mobile broadband speed from your network operator?
The current headline speed for mobile broadband in the UK is 14.4Mbps, which is an upgrade from 7.2Mbps currently being rolled out by Vodafone. T-Mobile offers up to 4.5Mbps, while O2, 3 and Orange top out at 3.6Mbps. These are theoretical maximum download speeds: in practice, factors like the distance to the nearest base station and contention rates (the number of concurrent users) will result in variable, and generally considerably lower, data rates.

'Average' is the modal judgement on speed for two most widely used network operators in our survey, Vodafone and O2. The latter has a noticeably wider spread of results, running the full gamut from 'abysmal' to 'excellent'.


Topics: Cloud, Mobility, Reviews


Hello, I'm the Reviews Editor at ZDNet UK. My experience with computers started at London's Imperial College, where I studied Zoology and then Environmental Technology. This was sufficiently long ago (mid-1970s) that Fortran, IBM punched-card machines and mainframes were involved, followed by green-screen terminals and eventually the pers... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.