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New study highlights rural mobile phone service issues

More than a third of people living in rural areas are dissatisfied with their mobile phone coverage at home, a new survey has found.

The research also found that 43% of rural dwellers experience service issues for calls or SMS throughout their homes.

The survey was conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes and The Research Perspective on behalf of telecommunications regulator Comreg.

It involved 2,800 face-to-face interviews with adults all over the country, with a higher percentage of those living in less densely populated and rural parts of the country included.

This was done to “put a magnifying glass” on rural areas where ComReg is aware that service issues may be more common, Comreg Commissioner Gerry Fahy said.

Those surveyed said the problems they experience with their mobile coverage include service deterioration when indoors, a reduction in the quality of reception during a call, calls being dropped and the inability to make calls.

Overall, a majority of consumers across the country expressed satisfaction with their current mobile service.

The survey also found that consumers are generally slow to change operators, even though those who do switch experience improvements in coverage.

10% said they had switched their handset in order to improve signal or coverage issues and more than half said this helped.

Almost a quarter said they had changed their network and nearly a half of those said it helped with their reception.

But despite the problems, 12% said they would be willing to pay more each month for a more reliable mobile phone service.

When it comes to use of mobile phones, 98% of those surveyed said they owned one, including 92% of people over 65.

Just over four fifths of people have a smartphone, including 98% of those aged between 16 and 24.

The demand for data is also evident in the results, with three quarters of smartphone users utilising 3G and 4G on their handsets.

But in rural areas the number of data users was lower.

Browsing the internet was the most common use of a smartphone, with users spending 44 minutes on average per day.

Social media use was the next most utilised smartphone service.

Comreg said it is a member of the government’s Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce and is committed to implementing a number of projects which are designed to improve the service for mobile phone users.

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