How much will mobile behaviour change with new superfast internet access?

With only a month to go ’til Christmas our thoughts have started to turn to the inevitable and much dreaded annual questions; ‘What am I going to get people for a Christmas present?’ For the technophiles amongst us one of the big things we will probably consider is a 4G enabled phone now that EE has rolled out its 4G network.

4G’s offering brings the user closer to the opportunity of having home broadband capabilities on their mobile, with speeds up to 8x faster than the current 3G network. Awareness and expectations of 4G are high with 41% of the Tech Tracker respondents believing their access will be faster compared to current wifi access. 4G technology offers stronger security and greater efficiency. With coverage spanning 16 cities, more than 20M people or a third of the UK population already have access to the 4G network; this is set to rise considerably with EE’s promise to spend £1.4M a day on their networks. These are all the promises that have been made but the question is whether 4G can live up to expectations.

We expect the introduction of this new service to once again completely change digital media consumption. Already we are seeing tablet and smartphone manufacturers offering mini versions of their devices, constantly increasing the portability of each. That, combined with faster 4G internet speeds, we are likely to see more and more out-of-home device usage on the move. From other research in this area we expect additive usage of multi-screens suggesting these devices will work in harmony together, and therefore the need to connect and sync as easily as possible. Carphone Warehouse is already on the case, sprinkling some extra cheer over the festive period offering bundled tablet and Smartphone offers on their Christmas brochure.

Current 4G bundles all offer unlimited texts and calls, and a variety of data packages from 500MB to 8GB. However with a one hour program on BBC iPlayer already exceeding the lower data tier, how will usage compare to anticipated? How easily will consumers be able to consider their likely data use and the most relevant data package for them? The results from the latest Tech Tracker research suggests particular consumer interest in terms of 4G services for music or radio, catch up TV and social gaming on their mobile phone. Fortunately EE has also introduced data management systems which will text users when they are close to their data limit, hopefully removing any bad surprises when the next bill comes through.

MediaCT’s latest Tech Tracker also revealed that whilst over half of consumers are aware of 4G, this figure is over 8 in 10 younger, affluent males. With a cracking advertising campaign currently in play, awareness could well continue to rise substantially with the wider population, further increasing the appetite to utilise this mobile connectivity.

The Tech Tracker results for Q4 2012 will be released in mid December. You can find Q3 Tech Tracker on our website.

Written by Gavin Sugden, Research Director and Mary Fitzpatrick, Research Manager at Ipsos MediaCT. Follow Ipsos MediaCT on Twitter @IpsosMediaCT.