Eurobarometer report 2012: E-Communications Household Survey

posted 24 Sep 2012 02:12 by Costas Kalogiros
For this year's edition, an emphasis has been made on tariff transparency, quality of services and consumer switching, in relation with the current policy debate on net neutrality.

Below you can read an abridged summary of the key findings of the survey (the full report can be found here):

82% of EU citizens who have broadband Internet access at home are unwilling to pay more for a faster Internet connection

  • Slightly more than half of EU citizens (58%) do not know what their maximum download speed is (58%).
  • Slightly less than half of respondents (46%) sometimes experience difficulties accessing online content and applications due to insufficient speed or capacity, but only 8% reported experiencing these inconveniences often.
  • Only 14% of EU citizens would be willing to pay more for a faster Internet connection. Among those who would pay more, 39% want to be able to upload or share content. Respondents who are willing to pay more for an Internet connection with a higher speed or downloading data capacity are more likely to have encountered difficulties accessing online content. Indeed, among those respondents who were unwilling to pay more for a faster Internet connection, over half (57%) report never experiencing difficulty accessing content due to limited speed. By contrast, more than six out of ten respondents who would be willing to pay more experienced difficulties accessing content (62%). The more the respondents are willing to pay the more frequently they experienced problems. Nearly three respondents out of ten (29%) willing to pay 33% or more experienced frequently difficulties whereas they are 15% of those who are willing to pay up to 15% more. On average, more than eight out of ten EU citizens would not be prepared to pay more for an Internet connection with a higher speed or a greater downloading capacity (82%). Most of these citizens would only be willing to pay up to 15% more (11%).
  • A quarter of EU citizens have experienced blocking of online content when surfing the Internet from home (26%). Those respondents who are not prepared to pay more have most likely less experience with blocking of online content, compared with those who would pay more for a faster connection (26% and 35%, respectively). However, there is a different pattern among respondents who are ready to pay more. Those respondents who are ready to pay up to 15% more, or between 16 and 33% more, are more likely to have experienced blocking of online content than those who are willing to pay more than 33% more for higher speed (35% and 34% vs. 26%). Most experiences of blocking appear to relate to Internet users trying to access multimedia resources. The most common activity interrupted by blocking was watching videos (33%), followed by listening to music (21%), downloading free video content (19%) and watching live events (17%). Filtering whilst playing online games (17%), downloading free audio content (15%) and watching television (13%) were also mentioned by a substantial proportion of respondents. Only one in twenty (6%) respondents reported having experienced blocking whilst trying to make Internet phone calls, although this may reflect the relatively low incidence of Internet phone calls. 
  • One in five users of mobile Internet has experienced blocking of content (20%), a figure five percentage points lower than the levels of blocking experienced when surfing from home.

Half of EU citizens are not aware that network operators and service providers may monitor the content they access (49%).

  • EU citizens generally oppose monitoring by service providers. 85% of respondents agreed that service providers should inform before monitoring for any reason. They also largely oppose to monitoring of traffic for marketing reasons. 87% of respondents agreed that service providers should request authorisation before monitoring for marketing purposes.
  • A large majority of EU citizens (86%) would want to be told if any of their personal data was lost, stolen or altered in any way. 72% would want to be told under any circumstances, but 14% of citizens would only want to know if they were at risk of financial harm.
  • Awareness of content monitoring by network operators and service providers is fairly limited. Fewer than half of EU citizens (43%) are aware of this practice.
  • Citizens in all Member States widely agreed that service providers should inform customers before monitoring their traffic data and communications.


Two-thirds of households have Internet access (64%). Among households without an Internet connection, the top reason given for not having one is that all household members are disinterested in accessing the Internet (63%). These figures relay an increase of four percentage points since spring 2011. Cost, as an explanation, has decreased in importance, down to only 18%, compared with 21% in the previous survey. The changes in the reasons may reflect the more widespread levels of Internet access
  • Broadband growth stalls for the first time
  • Only a very small proportion of households in Europe have narrowband Internet
  • Access to the Internet continues to increase but at a slower rate

Price is the most important factor when subscribing to the Internet. Nearly half noted cost as their first consideration (45%) followed by maximum download speed (13%), the fact that the Internet subscription is part of a bundle (12%) and the customer service offered (7%). No other factor was cited by more than 5% of respondents as their first consideration. Among those respondents who correctly stated the maximum download speed in their contract, two-thirds (67%) agreed that the speed matched the terms of their contracts. Four out of ten EU citizens experience difficulties accessing online content and applications due to insufficient speed or capacity (42%). However, only 8% claim that such difficulties are experienced often.

 

Slightly fewer than half of households buy bundled communications services (43%). The most commonly cited aspect of bundled services is the convenience of a single invoice (43%), followed by the perception that they are cheaper than paying for each service separately (31%).


Only a third of respondents have considered changing Internet Service providers (33%) or bundle providers (33%). Most households (62%) have not considered changing their Internet provider

 

Telephone access is nearly universal (98%) among EU households.

  • There has been no shift in the types of telephone access across the EU since spring 2011 or winter 2009. Most households have both fixed and mobile access (62%) and this EU average has remained stable.
  • Making phone calls via the Internet has remained broadly stable since spring 2011 (27%, down from 28%). Internet telephony is most popular in NMS12, where 32% of households use it on average.

Most mobile phone users limit their calls with their mobile phones because they are worried about communication charges (63%).


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