By Claire West

Ciena, the network specialist, today announced the results of an online survey it carried out with market research group YouGov, looking into mobile internet and broadband usage across the UK, France and Germany. The survey results imply the UK market for mobile data connectivity is stagnating as only four per cent of UK online respondents without an existing connection are likely to subscribe to one in the next twelve months. This compares to 12 per cent in Germany and 17 per cent in France.

When asked about their main form of internet access, the UK respondents once again showed a marked difference compared to those of France and Germany. While mobile access is only used by 23 per cent of UK online adults with a mobile data connection as their main connectivity method, the figures in France and Germany are much higher at 48 and 53 per cent respectively. These figures possibly imply Brits do not trust their mobile data connection, relying instead on fixed broadband.

François Locoh-Donou, VP and GM of EMEA at Ciena:

“The fact that so many people in the UK don’t see a need for a mobile data subscription could point to the reason why growth seems to be grinding to a halt. If mobile operators are to seize the market opportunity of mobile data services, greater emphasis should be placed on promoting its benefits and ensuring consumers have nothing less than a superior user experience.”

Of the 35 per cent of UK respondents who do not have a mobile data connection, 72 per cent said that they saw no need for it (this compares to 54 per cent in Germany and 43 per cent in France). The majority of consumers in all three markets who do use mobile data connectivity — but are unsatisfied with the service — point at a common problem: the connection is too slow (75 per cent in the UK and France, and 78 per cent in Germany).

“With so much negative publicity around mobile data services, it is not surprising some UK consumers are sceptical about the value of mobile connectivity. Mobile operators need to improve network capacity so consumers can be seduced by reliable and innovative services. An important part of this is the backhaul network, connecting base stations with the network core. It can be seen as the foundation for any successful mobile network strategy — without sufficient capacity and resiliency in the backhaul portion of their networks, operators could soon face problems delivering on the promise of mobile connectivity and the end users’ expectations.”

Mobile data connectivity is used predominately for leisure rather than work. Web surfing is the most popular activity in all three countries surveyed, followed by socialising/ keeping in touch with friends. In the UK, 47 per cent of users cite web surfing as the main activity performed over their mobile data connection, against 55 and 45 per cent in Germany and France, respectively.

Given 35 per cent of UK respondents have no mobile data connection; mobile operators potentially have a sizeable group to target for new subscriptions — as long as carriers can convince consumers of the benefits provided by mobile connectivity. Although the figures indicate a slowdown in the uptake of mobile data connectivity in the next year, not much churn should be expected by mobile operators, with 65% of UK respondents unlikely to change suppliers.

Research methodology:

Respondents of the online survey were asked a series of questions about accessing the internet using a mobile broadband or mobile internet connection - and included an explanation of both terms. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2168 adults in the UK, 2002 adults in France and 2077 adults in Germany. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd and 4th November 2010 in the UK, 5th - 10th November 2010 in France and 4th and 8th November 2010 in Germany. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults (aged 18+) in each country.