The app will be used to bolster Ofcom’s research into mobile telecoms operators
Ofcom has launched an app for UK users of Android smartphones in a bid to gather information about mobile coverage, reliability of voice calls, mobile broadband performance and users’ experiences and habits.
The Ofcom Mobile Research app is targeting some 20 million Android users in Britain and will automatically measure the performance of mobile and Wi-Fi networks, rather than require users to manually run tests.
The app, available now from the Google Play Store, will occasionally prompt users to provide brief feedback on how they feel their service is performing, but other than that Ofcom said the apps processes are automated.
Ofcom mobile research
“Ofcom’s research aims to build an independent benchmark for both consumers and industry. It will help mobile customers make purchasing and switching decisions, and will be used to enhance Ofcom’s mobile coverage maps and consumer research,” the company said.
“The data collected by the new app – such as app use, voice call reliability, signal strength, location and data speeds – will be anonymised and collated to build a nationally-representative dataset.”
Ofcom noted that its research will feed information back into other research projects, such as a study to compare the quality of service offered by various telecoms operators in the UK. The study is slated to be completed by Spring 2017.
The regulator regularly takes telecoms providers to task over broadband speeds, reception and other services they promise to deliver but in reality and the small print of contracts tend to miss completely.
While some Android users may find it odd to surrender some of their phone’s memory to the Ofcom app, it could give the regulator far more quantifiable data to conduct its operations and telecom comparison upon, rather than relying on just customer feedback, complaints and the data provided from telecoms companies.
Ofcom also hammered home that while the app will track some Andorid smartphone activity, it will not collect granular personal data, for example what was watched on the Android YouTube app.
Ofcom’s app launch comes at a time when more British adults are using mobile devices for a myriad of tasks compared to PCs.