Ofcom is currently consulting on how best to sell licences for new superfast 4G mobile broadband network in the UK. In a submission to the regulator eBay has submitted data from Verdict Research showing much of the UK is still poorly served by mobile broadband. They are calling on policy-makers to do more to address consumer frustrations when rules for the 4G mobile networks are agreed later this year.
Despite the future potential of m-commerce the market is currently being held back by unreliable mobile broadband. UK retailers are missing out on at least £1.3bn as a result of consumer frustrations with patchy coverage, unreliable connections and slow connection speeds driving shoppers away.
The research shows that 16% of the UK is an “m-commerce not-spot”, where mobile spending is at least 20% below the national average. Sparsely populated areas, such as the Scottish highlands and islands, rural Wales and rural counties of England are the worst affected. But the evidence also shows that mobile shopping is underperforming in some heavily populated areas like central London. It appears that even in the captial and other major cities broadband reliability and coverage isn’t guaranteed.
Mobile shopping could deliver a £4.5bn boost to Britain’s economy by 2016 and a further £13bn by 2021 according to eBay. The main things holding back m-commerce is patchy coverage and, for 80% of users, the still relatively high cost of some mobile data plans.
Angus McCarey, UK Retail Director for eBay UK said “Mobile shopping represents a massive opportunity not just for retailers, but for the economy as a whole”. Rory Stewart MP, a leading campaigner for mobile broadband, confirmed the importance of m-commerce to small businesses saying we must take this opportunity to expand mobile broadband coverage as far as possible.
Hopefully Ofcom will set rules which will ensure 4G mobile broadband coverage across the entire country when it is rolled out in 2014. In the mean time how good is the current 3G mobile data coverage where you live? Do you use mobile broadband or is the service too patchy or slow in your location?