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Imminent 4G set to Offer £1.8bn Boost to UK Retail

Imminent 4G set to Offer £1.8bn Boost to UK Retail


Thanks to the impending rollout of 4G across Britain, in the space of a year the UK retail economy could rocket by £1.8 billion – according to new research revealed by eBay.

Following a 4G mobile spectrum auction last month, hosted by government authority Ofcom, five winning bidders - including operators Telefónica UK and Vodafone, were given the chance to deliver future mobile competition for the 4G ultra-broadband internet access.

The companies are expected to roll out 4G services on their networks in spring or early summer this year, and ‘almost the whole UK population’ will be able to receive 4G mobile services by the end of 2017 at the latest.

Uplift in Mobile Shopping

Senior director of m-commerce at eBay Europe, Olivier Ropars, said a study compiled by retail analysts Conlumino, found that the arrival of universal 4G in Britain ‘could boost the retail economy by around £1.8bn’ over a year - a 113% year-on-year uplift in mobile shopping, compared to 2012.

Conlumino interviewed a UK representative sample of 2,081 consumers about their mobile habits and opinions on 4G. This, and existing data on consumer habits and mobile spend was used as a key input to the research.

Using the customer research data, and by profiling each individual and matching them against current mobile spending patterns for similar profiles, a potential uplift per person was calculated.

Changing Consumer Behaviour

Ropars said the ‘huge opportunity’ of 4G is being driven by changing consumer behaviour, with more than half (55%) of consumers using their devices more for shopping now than this time last year. The study also revealed that the major frustrations for UK mobile shoppers are speed (50.3%) and reliability (49.6%).

“The arrival of universal 4G will bring with it a more immersive, instant and intimate shopping experience than ever before – putting the most exciting features of mobile retail as we know it into high definition,” Ropars begins.

“It won’t just turbo-charge the way we shop. It will truly give us the ability to shop anytime, anywhere. That means an extra £1.8 billion of consumer spending up for grabs.”

Act Now

He said retailers must act now and think about the ‘virtual shop window’, to turn the 4G opportunity into an ‘exciting reality’.

Last year, communications regulator Ofcom conducted an assessment of future competition in the UK. This concluded that consumers were likely to benefit from better services at lower prices if there were at least four credible national wholesalers of 4G mobile services.

On the subject of the winning 4G bidders, which also includes Everything Everywhere, Hutchison 3G UK and Niche Spectrum Ventures, Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards, said: “This is a positive outcome for competition in the UK, which will lead to faster and more widespread mobile broadband, and substantial benefits for consumers and businesses across the country. “We are confident that the UK will be among the most competitive markets in the world for 4G services.”

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Pippa Chambers

Pippa Chambers

Freelance News Journalist at PerformanceIN - working to source the latest and breaking news in performance marketing. 

From newspapers to national B2B magazines and technology reporting, I have covered a variety of genres. NCTJ/NCE qualified.

Please email me at and follow me @PippaC1

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