eBay Tells Government We Need 4G

Online auction site eBay has submitted a ‘mobile manifesto’ to the government today, outlining the measures it believes are necessary to facilitate the growth the of the UK’s mobile-powered economy.

The company partly attributed a recent increase in sales and profits to the growth of mobile commerce and claims that mobile shopping could provide a £4.5 billion boost to the UK economy by 2016 and a further £13 billion by 2021. It says that the publication’s proposals would support the UK’s digital communications industry and assist the wider economic recovery of the country.

4G or not 4G

The manifesto calls on Ofcom to accelerate the delayed 4G spectrum auction as much as possible. It claims that nearly half of 2,000 people questioned said that they were unhappy with the speed of their connection and were discouraged from spending money online.

It claims that this would provide a boost for retailers and that major rail and road routes should receive priority given that a third of customers already shop on their mobiles while travelling.

The EU has told its member states to clear the 800MHz band for mobile broadband by 2013, but the first nationwide 4G network is not expected until at least 2017, something that could cost British businesses up to £730 million a year.

Roaming charges should also be reduced as although 53 percent of customers use the internet to find a store location abroad and 36 percent to purchase items, 63 percent said that they were discouraged due to the prohibitive cost of downloading data abroad.

Shared responsibility

However the manifesto also highlights the need for retailers to make an effort. Three quarters of mobile users would spend more on their devices if retailers have optimised websites, while 68 percent of users still have reservations about providing personal details over a mobile connection. It says responsibility for security should be shared among the network, payment provider and retailer.

“The mobile economy is proving resilient as people increasingly see owning and using a mobile phone as an essential expense, despite cutting back in other areas,” said Miriam Lahage, vice president of global fashion at eBay, “As smartphone and tablet ownership increases there will be even greater potential rewards for companies investing in mobile, and this is particularly true for retailers. At eBay in the UK we now see around 10% of sales by value transacted on mobile devices, but we need the right infrastructure in the UK to match this demand.”

Lahage also welcomed the news that O2 is to launch a 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) trial in London, commenting, “This O2 initiative is an important step to improving UK mobile infrastructure, and will give consumers in London a taste of what is to come after the 4G rollout.”

Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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