Press Release

Mobile network benchmarking company Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) has assessed how people in the UK use their smartphones for social media purposes. This includes their behavior, frustrations, and expectations while accessing their mobile operator’s network.

Over half of us (60%) check social media at least once a day on our smartphones, and we can often be frustrated by slow download speeds and buffering. GWS recently conducted focus groups and consumer polling along with network performance testing throughout the UK. The controlled testing involved the usage of specialised measurement equipment combined with iOS and Android devices.

Findings include:

• Checking up on our check-ins – Two-thirds of O2, EE, and Three customers check social media on their phones once a day or more. Vodafone customers are less reliant on their social networks as only 59% check their phones once a day or more

• MV-NO thanks to social media – Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) customers aren’t as fussed about social media. On average, 34% of TalkTalk Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and Virgin Mobile never check social media on their phones, compared to only 18% for the big four

• Posting the latest with your shiny new iPhone X – iPhone users tweeting, posting a pic or an animated GIF, or just updating their status will be best served by O2. The operator ranked as the fastest network for these types of uploads

• Buffering driving us ballistic – 35% of users say websites or apps not loading while on their smartphones is the most common network issue they encounter

• Can’t live without connectivity – UK adults ranked browsing the internet as one of the top three most important phone functions along with calling and texting. No network not-spots, please!

• Living with their parents and watching the tele – While streaming video may not be a significant activity amongst all age groups, it is especially important to 18-24 year olds. Just over a quarter (26%) of 18-24 year-olds cited high-quality video streaming as one of their most important mobile network performance features

• Not-so-social media – Perhaps concerned with data privacy, 65% of UK adults now share photos and videos with friends and family on private chats e.g. WhatsApp and Facebook Chat, compared with 33% who share this content publicly on social media

Dr. Paul Carter, CEO of Global Wireless Solutions, commented: “For most people in the UK, a smartphone is their main access point for their social media accounts. Whether it’s sharing photos with their friends and family or watching their favourite YouTube celeb, people expect to be able to get online using their phones wherever they are, whenever they want to. Operators need to provide robust, reliable network performance to keep their customers happy and our recent survey found that consumer satisfaction is highest with O2; which is no surprise considering they had the most reliable network in the highest number of cities and towns we tested in the UK.

“Social media activity is continuously growing, whether that involves habitually checking media feeds or uploading selfies throughout the day. Operators are working closely with infrastructure players and government institutions to build out bigger, better, more reliable networks. That’s great news for all the social media addicts out there!”

GWS conducted this series of tests to evaluate mobile network performance across the United Kingdom. Nearly 1 million data and voice task tests were conducted to evaluate the network performance of EE, O2, Three and Vodafone in 48 major cities and towns, in 2017/8. The tests were conducted using the GWS OneMeasure App running on iPhone 7 devices, Rohde & Schwarz’s Freerider using Samsung Galaxy devices, and the GWS Mobistat data evaluation and reporting platform.

GWS worked with YouGov to conduct focus group sessions and a poll of over 2000 UK adults between November 2017 and May 2018.