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4G survey reveals a third of UK “can’t see the point”

Sam Loveridge


Is 4G being marketed incorrectly?

One in three UK consumers have admitted they “can’t see the point” of 4G and believe 3G is adequate for their needs.

The latest YouGov SixthSense survey has revealed that a third of UK consumers don’t realise the benefits of 4G mobile broadband, and are very content with their current 3G service.

YouGov’s “4G Tariffs” report, undertaken ahead of more UK network providers launching their own 4G networks, showed that a good proportion of UK consumers aren’t even aware of all the 4G benefits.

The majority of those surveyed, 80 per cent, were aware of 4G, but only a fifth (21 per cent) could identify its features with confidence.

Only 48 per cent admitted they had a “vague understanding” of 4G, but 31 per cent didn’t have a clue what 4G was at all.

“That a lot of consumers can’t see the point of 4G represents a real challenge to operators as more of them roll out 4G to their customers”, said Russell Feldman, Technology & Telecoms Director at YouGov. “The low levels of understanding about what 4G offers indicates that networks need to be savvy when selling it to consumers – showing not just that is exists but also what it does.”

35 per cent of consumers surveyed said none of the 4G features piqued their interest, but for over half (55 per cent), the major concern for making the change is the cost. The report revealed that those already on 4G pay an average £14.70 a month extra on data.

“Take-up is likely to be a slow burn as consumers hold off making decisions until they see it in action.”

Currently the only UK 4G provider, EE has said that despite the service it is extremely happy with the take-up of its 4GEE tariffs across the UK.

“Superfast 4GEE is proving very popular with over half a million of our customers already signed up,” said an official EE spokesperson to TrustedReviews. “In fact we’re ahead of our target to reach one million 4G customers by the end of the year. That’s why we’re confident in our approach and remain firmly committed to helping customers access 4G in a variety of ways and in a way that suits them best.”

Next, read our review of the 4G LTE compatible Samsung Galaxy S4.


July 11, 2013, 3:20 pm

The 4G rollout from EE has been an insulting farce for the consumer. The main reason that data caps were introduced was because demand far outstripped supply for bandwidth so carriers capped the data and increased the cost (in real terms) to reduce people's consumption of data. (anyone remember T-Mobile's patronising "just wait until you're at home"?)

One of the biggest features of 4G is not the speed but the available bandwidth; most sites that people visit are limited by the server bandwidth and it's fairly common to download something at far lower speeds than the data connection is theoretically capable of, so in that respects the average consumer is not going to notice the speed increase of 4G.

The added bandwidth, however, means that more people can be connected at *3G* speeds *at the same time*, meaning that the artificial limits on supply are no longer needed - in other words; with a 4G network, most people will not notice the speed increase, but more people can be connected at once. Thus caps are no longer needed.

EE, however, have put the data cost *up* by, as quoted in the above article, £15, while still imposing caps on data (hahahah 500mb a month) - or another way of looking at it, they have *lowered* their caps for the same cost. Again, the main benefit of 4G is that the bandwidth means caps are no longer needed to reduce congestion. Because (at least theoretically) there is no more congestion any more with 4G.

If ever an example was needed for how competition is good for the consumer, EE's current short-term monopoly of 4G is it...


July 11, 2013, 3:27 pm

Oh, one more thing, comsumers are all going to end up paying through the nose for 4G data because the government have made the telcos pay obscene amounts in order to buy the spectrum needed for the 4G networks in the first place.

A few of the telcos /still/ haven't fully recouped the cost of buying the 3G spectrum (one of the reasons cited for the "poor" result of the 4G spectrum auction - I think they were being overly optimistic) so this spectrum cost WILL end up costing the consumer more at least in the short term...

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