Wednesday, 7 August 2013

4G Technology Not Doing Well



It's a good bet that most people who read this blog post have a mobile phone operating on 3G technology. While there are still some 2G phones out there, most of us have already graduated to the next level. However, what about 4G? Apparently, things are not going so well at the consumer level.

According to a report from the BBC, Ofcom's most recent statistics regarding 4G use show the technology is not catching on among UK consumers. Surveys show that less than 25% of current 3G users have any plans to upgrade to 4G in the near future. There are couple of reasons cited by the BBC:

  • Contracts - Analysts say that nearly 30% of current 3G phone owners would consider upgrading to 4G if it were not for their current contracts. Breaking those contracts in order to upgrade incurs a fee that users do not want to pay, especially given the fact that they don't know how much better 4G can be. People prefer to wait until their contracts expire before considering an upgrade.
  • Lack of Understanding - Surveys show that widespread 4G adoption is also being hampered by industry marketing and jargon. In simple terms, consumers see all the specifications of the latest 4G phone but have no idea what the acronyms and technical terms mean. Therefore, they see no real benefit in agreeing to an upgrade. Until they understand what they are getting for their money, consumers and businesses are unlikely to spend it.
  • Tariffs - You can always count on government tariffs to squelch enthusiasm for a new technology. 4G communications are no exception. Users are not going to embrace higher tariffs for a technology they do not believe benefits them substantially.
The ironic thing to consider here is the fact that the industry went to great lengths to design and build the infrastructure necessary to carry out 4G communications. As we speak, they are working on 5G as well. However, what good does it do to start working on the next generation when consumers haven't even embraced the current generation yet? Not much.

 

The Future of Mobile Communications

Today, the management of 4G communications hasn't been handled very well by those responsible for it. This is especially clear in the UK. In a nation where high-speed Internet service is bringing data communications into the age of fibre optics, mobile phones remain a supplemental device used for entertainment and keeping in touch with friends. Any network activity requiring real muscle is being done on wired networks.

That's not to say 4G technology has no place in the big, broad world of data. Nevertheless, network owners and equipment manufacturers need to do a better job of explaining why consumers should embrace the technology.  Eventually we will be forced to climb up the 4G ladder due to old technologies being phased out. However, isn't the point of marketing to induce people to climb that ladder voluntarily?

So far, it's not working out that way and only time will tell if that will continue to be the case...

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