4G ready? Survey finds UK buyers indifferent over next-gen mobile

Next week, network operator EE will launch the UK’s first 4G LTE service, starting in ten cities dotted around the country, before rolling out to a further six cities by year’s end, and 70% population coverage by the end of 2013.

Curiously, while the company is already talking up its new 4G service – even encouraging new customers to purchase 4G-ready handsets now on its 3G networks, T-Mobile and Orange, in order to easily ‘migrate’ to 4G later – EE still hasn’t revealed any information about how it plans to price its 4G tariffs, despite the service officially launching in just eight days.

For some consumers, that pricing ambiguity isn’t exactly reassuring, it seems. In a poll of 749 web users, conducted by ISPreview.co.uk over the last four weeks, just 15% of respondents said they'd be willing to pay a premium for faster 4G mobile services; 48% said that they had no desire to pay more compared with 3G, while others remained undecided. With 78% of respondents confirming that they already use 3G services in some capacity (via smartphones, dongles, Mi-Fi etc), it may simply be the case that consumers consider 3G to be sufficient for their needs in these austere times.

The fact that 4G remains a bit of an unknown quantity in the UK may also be a factor, as ISPreview.co.uk’s founder, Mark Jackson, explains: “General awareness of 4G is clearly strong, yet many remain sceptical about whether or not it will be worth the money. This is all quite understandable because the service has yet to launch and consumers will always need to see the benefits in action before choosing whether or not to make the jump.”

Indeed, many potential customers will be waiting for EE to publish its 4G pricing structure before making their minds up. But with no competition against its 4G services for the next few months, early adopters may find themselves paying a considerable premium for the privilege, at least until EE’s rivals are able to launch their own competing services, following the auction of 4G spectrum in the UK next year.

Indeed, Jackson’s view is that consumers planning to upgrade to 4G should consider waiting, rather than rushing in to be among the first: “Personally, I’d be inclined to wait for more competition,” he said. “Patience may be a virtue, but in this case it could also save you money.”

Source: ISPreview.co.uk

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Pricing has been revealed. Source: Metro newspaper. Contracts range from £36-£56 All contracts offer unlimited minutes &texts. The cheapest contract at £36 offers 500Mb of data

I don't think many (any?) of the people who have commented so far realise that 4G isnt just about speed. It should improve coverage too. This is because they are able to make huge cells with a single site. This sacrifices speed a little (over having a small 4g cell), but means that you should be able to get at least 3g speeds miles from any masts.

That being said, I'm not sure whether the first rollout of 4G by EE will include this ability, because its using the wrong part of the spectrum.

I would be interested in a mi-fi device like i have already. That way i can use the connection on everything i have. When i am out and about. I have wifi every other place i go. Work home friends houses etc.

I would be interested in 4G, but only if the coverage is better than 3G, which I doubt. I'm on T-mobile/EE in the UK and can't get 3G at home despite living near the centre of a major city (not a high rise area either). Neither can I get it indoors at work. Nor at either of my parents houses. It's not my handset or network, because this has been true for years on various different handsets and O2 and Vodafone as well. Forget rolling out a new technology until you've made the existing one work properly!

Lack of pricing
Lack of transfer information
Zero Marketing

All of these things have resulted in a lack of interest and awareness

One area where Bell in Canada actually does it right. Their LTE service is pretty good and no premium for using it. If you live in an area served and have a compatible device it is there for you to use. It's fast too (40Mbit download) but can make your device take a beating in the battery department. I've actually put my device back to HSPA+ as the battery lasts up to twice as long. As I live in a rural-ish area it isn't congested so I can get up to 15-20Mbit anyway so it's not really a penalty.

Obviously I know about the speed benefits 4G brings, but my speeds on HPSA+ have been consistently around the 7mb mark for the past few years. Things are fast enough I haven't ever really wished they were better.

I think that's perhaps 4Gs biggest hurdle in the UK. We are so densely packed that coverage from all networks is actually not too shabby. Sure I want the fastest speeds around, but I definitely have no desire to pay more for it when the current speeds do me fine.

Most phones can't support the bands EE and 3 plan to use and the bands Vodaphone and O2 will buy, this is gonna be a major headache for people next year who bought in on EE early.

The problem is most consumer don't care for 4G, I think its being forced onto consumers. Most people are more than happy with 3G and the speeds they get. If you're at home you'll use your wi-fi network and even when you're out and about you can use free wi-fi networks and a lot of contracts these days included up-to 1gb of free BT open zone wi-fi too. Also no one wants to pay a premium or be an early adopter as there arent enough benefits for people. Give it several years when the coverage is that of 3G and the prices are that of 3G then it will be the norm to go with 4G but for now its just not worth it.

Well I've got my Galaxy SIII LTE ready to go! I'll wait and see about the prices - if they're too high, no problem, I prefer the colour anyway.

The biggest issue with data is not the speed but the coverage. I'm with T-Mobile - which shares the Orange network - and frequently lose data coverage when I travel locally. At home I use Wi-Fi anyway and when I'm out and about I really just want reliable coverage, not stellar speeds.

I really don't see 4G as anything exciting. That might changes if I can reliably video chat with people on the go and browse YouTube videos at full speed but I don't see that as likely soon, especially not when I live 180 miles away from the nearest 4G area. In fact the 4G launch coverage is pretty pathetic - they're really rushing to get this out.

To me the whole point about mobile network performance is more about the guaranteed minimum than about how fast it can be.
In reality for a mobile device and all of its functions (including YouTube video and Skype), it would be enough to have between 5-10Mbps. While 3G, or the little upgrade 3G.5 can give you these speeds, the problem is that "it depends".
If you're in a garage, building or elevator, forget it. Often when I need to use the service rapidly, it is degraded. I don't believe 4G will solve this.
Maybe Telco's need to provided a subscription model where you only pay for the bytes which arrive at your device above a certain minimum speed, that would be a service level I would pay extra for, not a 4G promise which will only work in an open field, close to a broadcasting station.

my guess is that there's simply a lack of information about 4G in the UK. people probably havent used it and therefore think they dont need it.

There's probably an issue with data limits too - i'm guessing that the companies would want to keep people at a max of 500MB/mo while they adopt 4G.

And, lets face it, no one wants to pay a surcharge for the service. here, in the US, Sprint has the audacity to charge customers an extra $10/mo for 4G service. im sure it'd be even higher in the UK.

Lack of information from EE, blurry unhelpful information about who was going to get what initially (cleared up slightly now - basically if you are not with EE then you don't get 4G, if you are with Orange/Tmobile you get 3G.) Pay a premium to upgrade from your existing provider to EE
Poor coverage areas
Other suppliers getting access to the spectrum next year
Expectation of several years before it is more widespread

Pretty much the same as when 3G came out reasons wise, But I expect the most important thing is that most people just do not understand the benefits (me included, so far best I can tell is more consistent speed being the only benefit. Faster speeds being a benefit initially until more people start to use the service)

I have a horrible feeling EE will be charging an arm and a leg for 4G services when they finally release the pricing. (It just doesn't make sense why they haven't released it yet with just 8 days to go!) With the premium price of the cost of a 4G enabled phone in addition to what is probably gonna be £45/month upwards, I can't see the take up being all that great!

Zoom7000 said,
I have a horrible feeling EE will be charging an arm and a leg for 4G services when they finally release the pricing. (It just doesn't make sense why they haven't released it yet with just 8 days to go!) With the premium price of the cost of a 4G enabled phone in addition to what is probably gonna be £45/month upwards, I can't see the take up being all that great!

For me, it's the fact that 3G is pretty much good enough for my daily mobile data needs. Even edge is ok for a quick google search!

Mark said,

For me, it's the fact that 3G is pretty much good enough for my daily mobile data needs. Even edge is ok for a quick google search!

I am in the US with AT&T. I would say that 3G was good enough, it should be. However, AT&T has such awful 3G/Fake 4G service that LTE is really the only way to fix the problem. 3G should be able to do data up to about 6mbps, which would be fine. But with AT&T you get about 300-500kbps if you are lucky, sometimes it doesn't work at all.