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4G Price and Coverage are More Important to UK Consumers than its Speed

Posted Thursday, January 17th, 2013 (10:15 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 485)
mobile broadband uk

A new Virgin Media Business commissioned YouGov study of 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom has revealed that 90% of people wouldn’t swap their Mobile Broadband operator based purely on the prospect of getting faster speeds from 4G (LTE). In fact price, reliability and coverage were deemed to be more important.

It’s especially interesting to note that 71% of respondents “had no clue of what data speeds they should be receiving” from their current mobile phone operator. Furthermore 24% didn’t even know whether or not they could already get a 3G service.

Meanwhile 61% of respondents said that the main reason for changing operator tends to be cost, while 22% highlighted reliability as a key factor in their consideration. Separately 34% said that the pursuit of better network coverage would also be a crucial factor.

George Wareing, VMBs Director of Mobile, said:

Of course price will always be a factor with consumer purchasing decisions. However, by taking a holistic approach and giving customers a better understanding of their services, operators will be able to differentiate themselves not just on price but on a better all-round service, setting themselves up perfectly to roll-out future technology such as 4G.”

Mobile operator EE made waves last year when it became the first national Mobile Network Operator (MNO) to launch a 4G service via the 1800MHz band, although the services initial coverage has remained strictly urban focused and it won’t reach 98% of UK people until 2014 (70% coverage expected by the end of 2013). On top of that their prices were higher, and data allowances lower, than some would have liked.

At the same time EE’s arch rivals, such as O2, Three UK and Vodafone, will have to wait until Ofcom’s current auction of 800MHz and 2.6GHz radio spectrum completes, during spring 2013, before they can launch a competitive alternative. The good news from today’s study is that the vast majority of consumers on rival platforms appear unwilling to take the risk, at least until the market has had a chance to mature.

Mobile operators will need to put more effort into educating and advertising the advantages of 4G technology if they are to entice wary consumers away from existing 3G services. Bigger data allowances might be a good place to start.

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5 Responses
  1. Phil

    Very tue. I will change to 4G when it more reliability and good cheaper price. At the moment, it isn’t.

  2. DTMark

    I suppose that the 10% who would swap, are either those who want to be able to, for instance, use Shazam to identify a track they can hear and then click through to iTunes and download it immediately without having to wait ages (e.g. so as to listen to it in the car on the way home), and people whose use for it will be their primary home broadband connection (like us).

    Everyone else is prepared to wait a couple of seconds extra for their online banking app to load in the high street.

    I don’t yet see any kind of “killer app” for mobiles. Realtime camera streaming, perhaps. The main problem with smartphones probably remains the same as it ever was, battery life.

  3. Blueacid

    @DTMark: Three offer sufficient bandwidth for me to do that anyway via 3G! So even that example doesn’t absolutely require 4G..

    • DTMark

      We get 2 to 3 Meg upstream with our Three connection (have seen 5 Meg) but that’s only because so few people are using the same cell (rural area). On the other hand, although [O2] 3G is available in our local town, you’d struggle to upload anything much as it’s so pitiably slow (assumption: contention, signal strength is OK). My understanding is that the addition of the extra bandwidth 4G offers helps to limit the effect of contention – there’s ‘more to go around’.

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