Mobile network operator (MNO) Vodafone has bemoaned the lack of take-up of 4G services by businesses after commissioning YouGov to quiz a number of enterprise customers.
The survey revealed a general lack of knowledge of what 4G technology is and its benefits, which was particularly pronounced among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
In addition, perceived high costs were also a barrier to adoption, said the pollsters. Two-thirds of 1,200 respondents did not have 4G, 43% had a poor understanding of its capabilities and 40% had no plans to adopt it at all.
“While the perception of cost is still stopping businesses from taking the step towards 4G, the significant knowledge gap of what it can offer UK businesses is a challenge,” said Vodafone UK enterprise director Phil Mottram.
He acknowledged that as a 4G supplier itself, Vodafone needed to do more to educate potential customers on its benefits, such as increased speed and capacity, greater ability to work flexibly, and improvements to customer service, and reaffirmed the firm's commitment to doing so.
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The MNO is currently pumping £1bn into network upgrades and says it has extended 4G coverage into 500 new towns and cities in the past year.
Perception gap strong among SMEs
In spite of Vodafone’s headline findings, there were some more positive results thrown up by the survey, with the majority of businesses that had not moved to 4G perceiving the same benefits described by those that had, in terms of speed, customer responsiveness and so on. However, they did not seem to recognise the positive impact those benefits might have on their own business.
SMEs were particularly prone to understanding the benefits of 4G yet, for some reason, failing to actually take it up, said Vodafone, with only 24% having upgraded to 4G compared with 39% of enterprise respondents.
Mottram said this was “undeniably holding enterprises back from reaping the rewards of introducing 4G to their business”.
The barriers were also stopping UK businesses from gaining competitive advantages both at home and abroad.