Research Notes

If the goal of the Open Internet is to ensure users’ rights and a good network experience, why did the EU ignore 8 telecom regulators who wanted to expose bad smartphones?

Strand Consult has for many years focused on providing consumers with good mobile network experiences. In May 2013 we released the research note Telecom regulators in 8 countries launch war against smartphones, say consumers require transparency describing in how telecom regulators in 8 countries asked for EU support to expose bad smartphones.

Unfortunately, the EU closed its ears to the telecoms regulators from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden. Instead it gave overwhelming attention to Google’s and other US-funded net neutrality activists.

There is much academic evidence that shows that the vast majority of poor mobile experience results not from the network, but from the phone. But this is not a sexy thing for the EU to regulate, as people love their phones and phone makers run circles around regulators. Besides, it’s just easier to blame bad experiences on mobile operators, even if there is no evidence for it. Regulation by the EU is not about righting a wrong, facilitating market entry, or creating competition. It’s about creating a story that EU is doing something for the consumer. As such, roaming and net neutrality rules were announced in time for summer vacation, but neither of these measures create jobs or stimulate growth, the point of the Digital Single Market exercise.

Strand Consult’s report Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders’ Arguments documents how Open Internet and net neutrality rules are made without evidence of wrongdoing or proof of promised innovation.

In the report The experienced mobile coverage – what is bogus and what are the facts? Strand Consult examines the many factors that create perceived mobile coverage. The conclusions are very simple: network neutrality regulation will not give consumers a better network experience. A better experience can only be achieved through increased investment in infrastructure and better phones, two things which the EU Open Internet rules do not promote.

Let’s look at the facts when it comes to perceived mobile coverage
For a long time Strand Consult has published reports and research notes describing the role of the smartphone in decreasing quality of mobile coverage. Most people blame their poor mobile experience on mobile operators and their networks, not the makers of smartphones. However the data is mounting that smartphones are the leading culprit of poor mobile coverage, and telecom regulators are taking action, even if the EU ignores them. Read our research note about this topic.

Led by the telecom regulator in Denmark, eight nations came together on a common approach to the EU to demand that the challenges faced by consumers with their smartphones be addressed. Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden sent a formal letter in 2013 to Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director General for Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission, requesting a labeling scheme for receiver performance in mobile phones. Read the call for EU labelling scheme.

Having created a national framework for the deployment of mobile masts, recognizing the role of the smartphone in network experience, and incorporating the antenna studies of Gert Frølund Pedersen at Aalborg University, there is no doubt that Denmark is on the forefront of ensuring quality mobile coverage. Strand Consult is pleased that the debate it created as a result of its report “How mobile operators can reduce cost for mobile masts and improve regulation” has helped political leaders to understand that mobile coverage requires the cooperation of many stakeholders and that poor mobile coverage is not because operators are unwilling to build mobile networks. Read our research note about this topic.

To improve network experience, an EU labeling scheme would have profound implications, enabling consumers and the media to focus on the quality of modern smartphones. This action would encourage phone manufacturers to realize the challenges that their phones create on the network and encourage consumers to choose their smartphones more carefully.

There is no doubt that the modern smartphone is a more complex piece of computer machinery than most people appreciate. Strand Consult’s research note about the Samsung Galaxy S3 highlights some of the challenges that smartphones present to mobile operators and consumers. Read about the 10 things that will give you mobile coverage.

Mobile operators face many challenges as the number of users, smartphones and traffic explode on their networks. Therefore when trying to build and run mobile networks, operators must provide a common framework for the dialogue they need to have with stakeholders including political leaders, regulators, municipalities, site owners, the media, and the public.

Strand Consult’s updated and expanded report Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders’ Arguments is important for operators and regulators. Contact us today to purchase report and be wiser tomorrow.

Learn more about how Strand Consult has helped mobile operators improve the quality of coverage and lower their cost by ordering the report How mobile operators can reduce cost for mobile masts and improve regulation.

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