The public increasingly recognises the link between masts and good mobile coverage
With increasing numbers of smartphone and tablet users in the UK, end user awareness of mobile technology, particularly how base stations affect quality of connectivity, is on the rise.
Well over half (58%) of the mobile phones in the UK are now smartphones, and one in five adults now owns a tablet computer (20%), according to new research from the Mobile Operators Association (MOA), carried out by YouGov. The study also found that eight out of ten people recognise the link between mobile phone masts and good coverage, as they increasingly use their mobile devices to access the internet.
Attributing to end user education on phone mast coverage is the way smart devices encourage heavy data usage. Emailing (43%) and accessing social networks (40%) are the most popular activities for mobile phone users; people report being in contact with friends and family as the main benefit of mobile phones, while over a third of users use mobiles to look at maps and find directions and nearly a third (28%) check bus, train or flight times this way.
MOA executive director, John Cooke, said: 'The speed with which people are adopting this new technology has been phenomenal. Even more important than the figures on ownership is the way these devices are changing consumer behaviour. People are increasingly choosing to use mobile devices to access the internet, even when they have a fixed connection available. It's not surprising that email and accessing social networking sites are the most popular activities for mobile broadband, but we are also looking at maps and finding directions, checking train and bus times, and shopping.
He added: 'It's important that the planning system supports the deployment of mobile infrastructure, because without it, people won't be able to use their mobile devices as they want to and as they are increasingly doing. Mobile connectivity is a crucial driver for economic growth and brings benefits to individuals, communities and businesses across the country.'
The research also shows that 69% of people access local or central government services online. However, they are predominantly using a laptop or desktop computer to do so; the numbers using a mobile device for this are lower than for other online activities, with only 7% using a smartphone and 5% using a tablet computer to do so.
Mobile operators are keen to work with local councils to provide better mobile telecommunications services to their communities. Under the 'Ten Commitments to Best Siting Practice', the mobile operators provide annual rollout plans, showing their existing sites and network proposals for the following twelve months, to every local planning authority in the UK. The latest rollout plans were sent to councils in October.