Online auction house eBay has published fresh research indicating that the absence of universal 4G coverage in the UK could cost the economy £120m in lost mobile sales by Christmas.
eBay sites slow connection speeds as presenting a barrier to consumers wishing to use their smartphones to shop, estimating that mobile sales would be one third higher than currently projected £373m had a nationwide roll-out of 4G been implemented.
There are currently 40 countries offering national 4G networks whilst the UK has only just launched a limited service across 10 cities.
The survey showed that 55% of consumers plan to spend more time browsing the web with their phones this year than last whilst 39% will use theirs to glean inspiration for gift ideas and check prices and product details.
In total eBay expects as much as a third of items sold in its Christmas campaign to be purchased via a smartphone device despite explosive 250% year-on-year growth in mobile data usage leading to slow connection speeds, network time outs and poor reliability.
Clare Gilmartin, vice president of eBay Marketplaces, Europe commented: “Mobile devices have become virtual stores in our pockets, giving us the ability to shop anytime, anywhere. But for consumers, it’s critical that the experience is quick, seamless and simple. Slow browsing speeds and breaking connections are now significant barriers to mobile commerce – and this comes at a high price.
“While we welcomed the move by Ofcom to bring the 4G spectrum auction forward to early 2013 there’s no doubt, as this research shows, that for the UK economy the cost of another Christmas without universal 4G is huge. 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.”