50% of UK consumers will naturally evolve onto 4G: Are 3G users vegetarians?

50% of UK consumers will naturally evolve onto 4G: Are 3G users vegetarians?

50% of UK consumers will naturally evolve onto 4G: Are 3G users vegetarians?

50% of UK consumers will naturally evolve onto 4G: Are 3G users vegetarians?

As the battle for 4G subscribers heats up across the UK with Vodafone and O2 looking to challenge EE’s year-long head start, the latest research from mobilesquared reveals that almost half of existing 3G mobile customers intend to stay with their existing provider when they upgrade from 3G to 4G, almost 20% will churn, and a healthy percentage of early 4G adopters are not satisfied the network performance.

Our latest consumer research reveals that 47% will naturally evolve onto 4G with their existing mobile operator when their contract needs upgrading, 18% of respondents said that they would leave their existing mobile operator to access 4G. Leaving one-fifth of consumers not interested in network speeds whatsoever, 4% not knowing what 3G or 4G is, and 10% of respondents already on 4G.

Of those 10% on 4G already, 60% (or 6% of total respondents) claim to be delighted with superfast broadband, while 4% are disappointed with its performance. When the survey was completed, EE had announced that it had 500,000 4G subs, which would mean that 300,000 were delighted, while 200,000 were left questioning why they had upgraded to what was claimed to be a superior broadband experience.

Breaking these result out by gender reveals that although females are more delighted with 4G than males, males are more likely to churn to access 4G. The 35-44 year olds are the mobile users most likely to churn, whereas the 18-24 year olds are most likely to remain loyal to their existing provider. The 25-34 year olds are the mobile users most critical of network speeds.

We should put these results into context: 3G performance has been less than satisfactory and the majority of 3G users have been reliant on WiFi to deliver a compelling, rich media experience. So when their mobile operators advertise a superior experience, the UK consumers are right to exercise caution when it comes to 4G.

What is interesting is that the massive ad campaign started by EE with Kevin Bacon, with Vodafone entering the fray with Yoda in recent weeks, is that the mobilesquared research reveals these campaigns are actually targeting around 18% of mobile users – about 10 million people.

Slowly but surely, the UK mobile user is starting to accept 4G. In September, EE announced that it had over 1 million 4G subscribers. In June, when the mobile operator announced that it had passed the 500,000 subs mark it said then that it expected to hit the 1 million figure by year end.

Did EE put something in the water?

So what accelerated 4G adoption from July? Between launching 4G in October 2012 and June, EE was attracting an average of 71,428 subs onto 4G every month. From July that figure accelerated to 166,667 per month. It could be that the UK public is more accepting of a celebrity pulling a shed or doing the Conga in random locations, than the celebrity making connections. Maybe, the UK public simply don’t like Kevin Bacon and became vegetarians in protest.

Regardless, these latest adoption figures will be viewed as very encouraging by Vodafone and O2, and 3 come the end of the year when it finally gets in on the 4G act – though clearly it was inevitable that 3 would delay 4G as long as possible to ensure the longevity of its name and postpone the discussion about a rebranding to ‘4’, but that is a discussion for another time.

Getting back on track, the fact that 4G adoption has been faster than EE anticipated, especially in the latter half of 2013 and as the industry gears up for the Festive Period melee, can only be very good news. It is also worth noting, that since the research was conducted, EE has announced that its 4G service now covers over 100 cities and towns across the UK, and in August its 4G network coverage reached 60% of the population.


For a detailed breakdown of our consumer research by region across the UK, please email info@mobilesquared.co.uk

The research was conducted by Lightspeed Research in 1H2013 of 2,000 nationally-representative consumers.

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