Consumers Want Control of Children’s Phones

New independent research, commissioned by Comptel Corporation , has today revealed that mobile operators are struggling to meet growing demand by consumers for more control over their services, especially on their children’s phones.

The research, which polled 500 consumers and 25 mobile operators from across Europe, showed that over a third of consumers questioned (34-36%) are now using non-voice/SMS based mobile services and would like more control over their mobile service package. Consumers want more control to stop problems like inappropriate content being accessed from phones and the associated costs from content downloading. However, only 24% of operators believe that their order management and provisioning software, which is part of their Operational Support System (OSS), is completely able to support the control users expect as part of new services.

The survey demonstrated that a massive 87% of consumers believe that parents should be given greater control over their children’s mobile phone usage and wanted the ability to take direct control of children’s access to premium rate numbers (88%), outgoing calls and data access (50%). With ringtones (96%) and games (68%) identified as the most downloaded type of content today – content which can be expensive and is traditionally aimed at children – a requirement for more parental control is understandable.  84% of operators agreed that they are seeing a demand for increased parental control over children’s mobile services, but 85% of consumers felt that this service was unavailable to them, with 41% of respondents stating that they would be willing to pay for it if it was. This, again, shows an increasing demand for control over services, something that operators are not offering despite 80% claiming they offered tailored mobile packages.

Ms. Arnhild Schia, executive vice president for market development at Comptel, said: “In the past, non-voice services have been abused on user’s phones. For example, children have used their phones to purchase hundreds of pounds worth of content, such as ringtones, unaware of the consequences and cost implications of making numerous downloads.  As demand for non-voice mobile services grows consumers, particularly parents, are expecting greater control over the use of services to stop any misuse.”   

The survey confirms that of the consumers now taking advantage of non-voice mobile services, 98% said that they use these services daily to several times a year.  Furthermore, 92% of the operators questioned stated that the uptake of non-voice mobile services is increasing all the time. However, in spite of this growing demand, over half of operators (64%) said that their order management and provisioning solutions would only allow them to make some real-time, ad-hoc changes to subscribers accounts and as many as 40% said that their billing systems are not capable of reacting to these changes at all.  In fact, 52% of operators cited that they need to invest more in OSS to ensure billing, provisioning and order management systems are capable of handling real-time account alterations.  

Schia continued: “Operators need to ensure that they are being more responsive to their subscribers’ requirements and are able to deliver the services that consumers are asking for.  If they cannot, they will lose out on revenue and become victims of increased customer churn. Our research proves that consumers are using more services and require more control of their price plans and usage than ever before, however, it has also exposed that the majority of operators’ OSS is inadequate. Without the right OSS, operators will experience increases in time to market of new services and be prevented from meeting customer demand for more control.”  

The study, which was executed by independent research firm Vanson Bourne, questioned 25 European mobile operators as well as 500 consumers in the UK, France, Germany, Holland and Sweden.

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