£120m lost sales this Christmas due to late 4G

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On Thursday this week the UK finally catch up with 40 countries around the world as our 4G mobile network is switched on for the first time.

Well actually that’s a little premature, the only company that’ll have 4G is Everything Everywhere and a better name at launch would be Everything Hardly Anywhere. Despite spending around £1.5bn so far, the only places you’ll be able to get 4G this week are London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Sheffield, Southampton and Glasgow.

Apart from Everything Everywhere who got the go ahead to use their existing frequency, the other mobile phone operators have been squabbling and threatening to sue Ofcom. It also transpires that part of the radio spectrum needed for 4G somehow got used when our TV sets were switched over from analogue to digital. That’s being sorted at the moment, otherwise we’d get 4G mobile Internet at the price of losing out TV signals.

That being said lack of 4G is costing the economy and according to eBay there will be around £120m in lost sales via mobile devices this Christmas. eBay’s research suggests that with better connections from the nationwide roll-out of 4G, mobile sales would have been one third more than current predictions, up to £493m from £373m.

Despite mounting consumer demand the UK’s legacy network infrastructure continues to creak under the strain of rising volumes of mobile data, which is growing 250% year on year. The top three barriers preventing consumers from shopping on their mobiles are slow connection speeds, payments timing out and network reliability. 4G holds the key to breaking down these barriers, as 4G networks are built to handle mobile internet and data more quickly, enabling faster connection speeds and more reliable mobile connectivity.

Clare Gilmartin eBay VP pointed out that “The UK is eBay’s biggest mobile shopping market in Europe and come this Christmas over 30% of the things that are bought with be through mobile”. That’s likely reflected across all UK ecommerce, but it could be even better if we had 4G networks. Clare added “Consumers are increasingly demanding a better experience, regardless of their network. We hope that the Government will work quickly come the New Year to ensure its promise to deliver 4G for all by the end of 2013 is realised”.

You might have thought in a recession, with an estimated £4billion to come from the 4G airwaves auction, that the government would have managed to sort out the squabbles between the mobile operators and kicked the TV signals into place. Getting the cash from mobile operators banked wouldn’t do the budget deficit any harm and it would certainly help online commerce.


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