The Consumer Experience - Research Report 09




This is Ofcom's fourth 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 Evaluation Report, which considers the key findings and trends emerging from the research and uses these to assess the impact of Ofcom's  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, July 2008 and July 2009. In 2007 it was expanded to include consumers' experience 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 for 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 topical issues.

Ofcom upper-body dexterity and mobile impairment research

This qualitative research project explored the experiences of consumers with an upper-body mobility or dexterity impairment. The study included people with different types of dexterity and mobility impairments, including those with multiple impairments and those with mild, moderate and severe impairments. The level of impairment was self-defined and based on the impact it had on the person's life. Due to the qualitative nature of the research and the objectives of the study, the sample is not representative of consumers with a mobility or dexterity impairment. However, the methods used did allow researchers to collect rich and detailed data. Each interview lasted 1 hour, was carried out in the respondent's home and involved an observational component, allowing researchers to compare statements with behaviour.

The scope

This report analyses the overall experience that consumers have had of the communications market, in four areas:

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

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.

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 August 2009 The Nations & Regions Communications Market 2009.

Time series data

Where possible, data from Q2 or Q3 2009 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 2009 data were collected in Q1 2009 and are compared to annual rolled data collected in 2006 and 2007 (Q1 Q4 combined) and Q1 2008 data.

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 99% confidence level; this means that if you asked 100 people in the population, 99 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.

Low sample sizes (i.e. between 50 and 100 respondents) were achieved for some demographic groups for some metrics. Where this is the case, it has been highlighted that the data is indicative only.