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4G rollout poses unforeseen problems for UK retailers

24 April 2013 - 09:39 by David Aiken

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A new report from Barclays suggests that many of the UK's retailers are not adequately prepared for the arrival of widespread 4G mobile networking coverage later this year, according to V3.co.uk.

Network provider, EE, was the first to introduce 4G last autumn and at the moment, it remains the only company offering this type of high speed connectivity to customers in the UK.

However, in the next couple of months its rivals should begin to introduce their own services, which should help to drive down the price and significantly increase the number of people who are able to access the internet when they are out and about, at 4G speeds of between 10Mbps and 20Mbps.

This will, effectively, give people a portable connection that is as fast or faster than their fixed line home broadband.

Analysts believe that this will lead to a surge in the number of people who carry out safe shopping online from 4G smartphones and tablets, but Barclays found that less than a third of retailers have actually created mobile-optimised sites to take advantage of this fact.

As such, it could be possible that there will be a large untapped market of 4G consumers who are not adequately catered to by portals for safe shopping online this year.

Many companies questioned by Barclays admitted that they had not actually heard of 4G, which shows a worrying lack of awareness.

It could be argued that consumers will also be in the dark about 4G services, but in reality, most people will adopt 4G without realising it, because it will become a core part of most mobile services.

With other studies finding that consumers are increasingly turning to browser-based m-commerce sites rather than dedicated smartphone apps, it makes sense for retailers to cater to this crowd.