Many people in the UK see no reason to upgrade to 4G mobile services. Just under a quarter of UK smartphone users have no intention of signing up to 4G, according to an Ofcom report.
Although many people are aware of the existence of 4G mobile data services, they have no immediate plans to upgrade. According to Ofcom, over half of all people in the UK own a smartphone and their research found that 22 per cent of people with smartphones strongly disagree that they will sign up to 4G in the future.
Almost two thirds of smartphone users are unsure about upgrading, or are unlikely to upgrade in the coming year, Ofcom said in its 2013 Communications Market Report.
Part of people’s reluctance to upgrade may be because of the binding nature of their mobile contracts. Three in 10 smartphone users said they would like to upgrade to 4G, but are waiting until their current contract expires to avoid termination charges, said Ofcom.
Many people are unsure of the benefits 4G can give, said research director Jessica Ekholm of technology analyst house Gartner.
“4G is new and doesn’t mean much to consumers,” said Ekholm. “Any technology is intangible – people ask: ‘What does it mean to me?'”
She added that people will not become enthusiastic about 4G until they hold a handset and experience faster mobile internet speeds.
People being exposed to 4G will give them an appetite for 4G services, she explained. “It needs to go viral. It needs people’s friends and family to say ‘4G is fantastic’.”
Mobile operators have not done a good job of explaining how 4G can help in people’s lives, relying on technical terms such as ‘LTE’ and ‘megabits per second’ to explain benefits, said Ekholm. “At the moment it’s acronym soup.”
People also may have been put off 4G by higher data tariffs, she said.
4G services are generally more expensive than 3G. Consumer uptake will happen when 4G pricing comes down to 3G level, said Ekholm. “Eventually we will all be using 4G. It’s like moving from dial-up to broadband.”