Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Business View: Ringing in changes not always so smart

Carphone Warehouse: Overall, it's estimated that around 45% of all mobile phone users have smartphones
Carphone Warehouse: Overall, it's estimated that around 45% of all mobile phone users have smartphones

Octogenarians and 30-somethings don't often have gadgetry common ground. With a few honourable exceptions – that's a nod to the gadget-loving pater of my predecessor in this chair – many tend to shun fidgety smartphones in favour of simpler, more traditional models.

Overall, it's estimated that around 45% of all mobile phone users have smartphones.

But a recent BlackBerry/tea incident – and not in the Twinings sense, unfortunately – has meant being thrown on the tender mercies of the Carphone Warehouse.

And the choice of a simpler phone seems to conjure a less complicated way of life away from many needless distractions.

And it also created some common ground with an 82-year-old auntie-in-law, also rocking the same model of Nokia.

This handset is so oblivious to the urgency of modern communication that it doesn't even have a red light to signify the arrival of a text.

But in many ways, its sheer simplicity is clever. The alarm clock is unwordly enough to know that off means off, so that an alarm set on a Friday doesn't then go off on a Saturday, disrupting a lie-in.

And while mobile phones have made our lives easier in many ways, whether smart or not, they could also be seen as just one more thing to get annoyed at. A report from telecoms watchdog Ofcom shows that a third of us have problems with our mobile at least every week. However, Northern Irish people reported being satisfied with their operator (85% were 'very satisfied' or 'fairly satisfied') than those in other nations. In fact, all operators performed their best in Northern Ireland.

Vodafone came bottom for dropped calls with more than one in five made in rural areas across the UK failing to connect.

UK-wide the network failed to complete an average of 7.4% of all calls made.

EE could claim the least percentage of aborted calls with 3% of calls failing, falling to just 2.5% in urban areas.

O2 dropped 4.7% and 5.5% of their calls, UK-wide.

Vodafone said it "continues to invest in its network and services", adding that it was spending £1 bn this year to improve its coverage and quality.

O2 was best for townie users, while EE thrived at keeping the countryside connected.

EE said: "We're investing hundreds of millions each year in expanding the reach of our network so that more people can make phone calls in more places."

Nearly 80% of people in towns and cities were satisified with their mobile network, compared to 67% in rural parts.

It's pleasing to see that Northern Ireland is so blessed with good coverage, whether you're using a smartphone or not.

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