Dropped Calls, Slow 'Net Still Plague Cellphone Users

If you often find yourself asking, “Can you hear me now?” on your cell phone, you’re not alone.

Thirty-two percent of cell phone owners experienced dropped calls at least a few times a week, while 72% of owners encountered that problem occasionally, according to a Pew “Mobile Phone Problems” survey.

But sometimes cell phone owners might want a call to drop. Sixty-eight percent of cell owners receive unwanted sales or marketing calls. And 25% of cell owners encountered this problem at least a few times a week.

These sales calls can be illegal. The survey notes that U.S. law prohibits calls to mobile phones when they are made with an automated random-digit dialing generator or make use of prerecorded messages.

Telemarketing problems are not confined to calls. Sixty-nine percent of cellphone owners who use their phones to text say they receive unwanted spam or text messages. Of those, 25% face problems with spam and unwanted texts at least weekly.

Smartphone users may have the convenience of the Internet and e-mail at their fingertips, but they are not immune from technical problems. Smartphone users are more likely to experience dropped calls (35%) versus 28% of other cellphone owners. They are also more likely to receive spam or unwanted texts (29%) versus 20% of users who don’t have smartphones.


Slow download speeds also annoy smartphone users more than traditional cellphone users (49% versus 31%).

With the expanded capabilities of smartphones, cellphone owners have heightened expectations of what cellphones can and should do.

“The big change that mobile connectivity has brought to users is the instant availability of people and data,” said  Jan Lauren Boyles, a Pew Internet Project researcher who wrote the report. “As mobile owners become fond of just-in-time access to others and as their expectations about getting real-time information rise, they depend on the cell phone's technical reliability. Any problems that snag, stall or stop users from connecting to the material and people they seek is at least a hassle to them and sometimes is even more disturbing than that in this networked world.”