As England beat Ecuador in the heat of Stuttgart on Sunday with what was widely accepted to be their best (although still far from perfect) performance of the tournament, evidence is growing that mobile operators are also raising their game.
Two operators - T Mobile and Vodafone - delivered their SMS alerts of Beckham's winning goal within a minute of his free kick strike, the fastest performance by far of the whole tournament.
T Mobile, a sponsor of the tournament, has consistently led the pack in terms of SMS delivery speed. But when the SMS services of all five UK operators were measured following England's opening World Cup game against Paraguay two weeks ago, T Mobile's SMS notification of England's goal (a Paraguay own goal) took more than three minutes to arrive, some two minutes slower than Sunday's effort. And Vodafone - the slowest operator during both of England's first two games by a considerable margin - improved significantly on Sunday and is, together with T Mobile, providing the fastest service.
Rather like the England team itself, however, one of the five operators continues to labour, delivering its goal notification more than 10 minutes after Beckham had scored (ironically around the time he was seen being violently sick on the field).
The tests are the fourth in a series being conducted by Argogroup, the mobile data services testing company, during every England game at the World Cup. The tests took place between 4.00pm and 6.00pm on Sunday 25 June, using a variety of phones from different manufacturers.
Consumers want more
Despite the improved performance, the public seems to want more, and not just from the England team. Argogroup also conducted a poll last Friday among 50 randomly selected mobile phone users and asked what an acceptable time for delivery of an SMS was for something like a World Cup goal. More than 60 per cent said that 30 seconds would be acceptable.
The group was also asked about MMS. 60 per cent did not know what an MMS was. Of the remaining 40 per cent, three quarters understood what an MMS was but had never tried an MMS service. The remaining 25 per cent had tried to use an MMS service from an operator but had not been satisfied with it. T Mobile is the only one of the five UK operators to offer an MMS of goals scored. Sunday, this took almost 12 minutes to arrive.
Two operators - 3UK and T Mobile offer a video clips service. One again, 3, was fastest, delivering its shorter clip within six minutes. T Mobile's effort required closer to 13 minutes.
"What our tests have shown is that operators are beginning to get to grips with providing services like these to a mass audience," said David Frodsham, Argogroup's CEO. "But they are still having teething troubles that significantly affect the user experience and their revenues."