Brits blissfully unbothered by snail-paced mobile network speeds

Too busy not using X to notice

Brits are satisfied with the speed of their mobile network, research finds, despite the UK having some of the slowest average 5G download speeds among G7 nations. Twitter is also no longer among the top 10 most used mobile apps.

According to mobile insights consulting firm GWS, the network "sweet spot," the point at which consumer demands for network mobile speeds match what the operators deliver, sits between 1 and 5 Mbps.

This seems a little low to us, especially as the average download speed for UK mobile broadband is about 30 Mbps, according to some estimates.

GWS claims that speeds in this "sweet spot" range allow the majority of UK mobile users to perform most of their activities in ways they find satisfactory, without the need for higher throughput.

It finds the majority of users are ok with the speeds they're getting, and aren't looking to change operator as a result. Just don't tell the mobile operators, please.

The research also claims that usage trends tracked by its app analytics platform, GWS Magnify, indicate that Elon Musk's X (formerly Twitter) is not even in the top 10 of the most used apps.

The number one app, based on mobile minutes of use, is Facebook. Next comes the Chrome browser, WhatsApp, Google Maps, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Gmail, and Snapchat. Users spend 43 percent of their daily mobile screen time on social media and browsing apps alone, according to GWS.

We find it surprising that Twitter isn't included in the top 10, although it was noted last year that the Musk-owned platform had suffered a substantial fall in its total audience.

Brits now spend nearly five hours a day on their phones, or nearly a third of their time awake. Most of this is actually using a Wi-Fi connection, according to GWS, which suggests home or office use. Over a quarter of online time a day (26 percent, or 77 minutes) is access via a cellular network, while the remaining 74 percent (216 minutes) is access via Wi-Fi.

This is backed up by figures that indicate 40 percent of users will only access a public Wi-Fi hotspot as a last resort if cellular access is not available.

According to the research by GWS, 69 percent of users in the country have been with their current operator for more than two years. It estimates that about 29 percent are sticking because they are locked into contracts, but notes that 31 percent are on SIM-only contracts, 20 percent on rolling plans, and 17 percent on pay-as-you-go, which indicates the majority could change operators if they wished to.

When it comes to changing operators, 24 percent of UK users are looking to switch this year. The top reason for this, at 38 percent of respondents, is that charges are too high. Poor signal and network blackspots are the reason for 31 percent of switchers, and network speed is a factor for some 21 percent.

Coverage and reliability continue to be the primary network-related pain points, according to GWS. The majority of UK mobile customers (64 percent) report experiencing at least a few reliability issues each week.

Vodafone customers report the fewest issues with their network coverage across the course of a week, the research shows, followed by Virgin Media O2. Three has the highest number of customers reporting frequent issues with their network coverage, followed by EE. ®

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