The Consumer Experience - Research Report 08



two women using a computer


This is Ofcom’s third annual report on the consumer experience of telecoms, the internet and digital broadcasting. It discusses the results of our research programme, which measured how well consumers have fared over the past year in their use of these services.

This report has been published alongside Ofcom’s Consumer Experience Policy Evaluation which considers the key findings and trends emerging from the research and uses these to assess the impact of Ofcom’s policy work and activities.

Data sources

A variety of data sources were used in compiling this report; Ofcom’s communications tracking survey and its consumer decision-making survey, supported by a range of ad-hoc research.

Full details of all the Ofcom research used in this report are available in Annex 1. The following is a brief outline of the research used.

Ofcom communications tracking survey

The technology tracking survey is run on a quarterly basis. It provides Ofcom with continuous understanding of consumer behaviour in the UK communications markets, helping us to monitor change and assess the degree and success of competition.

Ofcom consumer decision-making survey

Ofcom’s first survey of consumer decision-making was carried out in June 2006, and repeated in July 2007 and July 2008. In 2007 it was expanded to include consumers in each of the fixed-line, mobile, broadband and multichannel television markets, including bundled services. The main objective was to track the extent to which consumers participate in the communications markets. This survey is now Ofcom’s key data source monitoring switching and satisfaction in the communications markets.

Consumer concerns research

Ofcom monitors consumer concerns in the communications markets on a quarterly basis. The objective is to measure and track levels of concern as well as to investigate consumers’ experience of specific topical issues.

Ofcom visual impairment research

This qualitative research project explored the experiences of consumers with a visual impairment. The study included people with different types of visual impairment, including those with mild/moderate and severe/profound impairment. Due to the qualitative nature of the research and the objectives of the study, the sample is not representative of all consumers with a visual impairment.

Ofcom learning disabilities research

This qualitative research project explored the experiences of consumers with learning disabilities. The study included people with different types of learning disability. Due to the qualitative nature of the research and the objectives of the study, the sample is not representative of all consumers with learning disabilities.

The scope

This report analyses the overall experience consumers have had of the communications market in three areas:

  • telecoms (fixed-line and mobile);
  • internet (including broadband); and
  • broadcasting (television and radio).

The report presents data on each of the markets under the following section headings:

  • consumer access and take-up – the availability and take-up of communications services (including non-ownership, both voluntary and involuntary);
  • consumer choices, value and range – trends in prices of communications services, consumers’ awareness and use of suppliers, and their levels of satisfaction;
  • consumer empowerment – the level of participation in communications markets in terms of switching and shopping around, and use of consumer information; and
  • consumer protection and concerns – complaints, concerns and awareness of complaint procedures.

The report covers the UK adult population, and compares findings in three ways:

  • across various demographic groups, where relevant;
  • over time, where the data are available; and
  • across countries, where robust data are available.

The report contains some insights into ethnic minority groups, although these demographic groups have been the focus of a separate Ofcom study published in September 2008: Media Literacy Audit: Media literacy of UK adults from ethnic minority groups.

With the exception of take-up data, findings have not been analysed at a national or regional level across the UK, as this is covered by Ofcom’s annual Nations & Regions Communications Market report, last published in May 2008 The Nations & Regions Communications Market 2008.

Time series data

Where possible, data from Q2 or Q3 2008 have been compared with data from a similar time period in previous years. However, there are some analyses in the report where different time periods have been used:

  • analysis by nation – 2008 data were collected in January 2008 and are compared to annual rolled data collected in 2006 (Q1 – Q4 combined)

Statistical reliability

For reporting purposes, sub-group differences are noted in the report only when they are significantly different from the total sample. We have reported differences at the 95% confidence level; this means that if you asked 100 people in the population, 95 of them would give a similar response to the finding reported.

Insufficient sample sizes (i.e. less than 50 respondents) were achieved for some demographic groups for some metrics. Where this is the case, no data have been reported.