Recent trade analysis on the potential ramifications of the introduction of the 4G network raised some interesting issues. Mintel takes a look at three of the issues raised, and briefly explains what it will mean for telecom operators, and how businesses can benefit from likely consumer reactions.

US-led introduction of 4G Android devices will soon spread awareness internationally

Apart from some low-key trial rollouts in small, contained areas of the country, the majority of UK consumers are as yet unaware of the impending rollout of the LTE network, or the opportunities it will afford them. This lack of awareness has provided major telecommunications operators a large degree of breathing space, as they are able to continue testing and planning without any great pressure spurred by consumer demand.

However, Samsung, HTC and Motorola have all been pushing out 4G devices in the US for some months now. As is typically the case, these devices will shortly migrate into the UK, and whilst the consumer impact of Android 4G equipped devices is likely to initially be low, it is extremely likely that their widespread availability will soon push smartphone and tablet manufacturer Apple to also begin providing 4G compatible devices, in order to remain competitive. Apple’s media and marketing footprint is significantly more advanced than any individual Android handset manufacturer, and once Apple 4G devices are rolled out in the UK, consumers are going to become significantly more aware of the network, and the opportunities it affords them.

Based on activities over the previous years, a safe prediction for the release of the next major iteration of the iPhone is summer 2013. Knowledge of 4G availability will spread shortly after, and with 56% of the population owning a smartphone as of December 2011 according to Mintel data, it is likely that by early 2014 a majority of consumers will either be looking to leverage 4G capabilities immediately, or will be bearing the availability of the network on individual handsets in mind, for when their current contract replacement cycle reaches its zenith. Pressure on telecommunications operators to offer a 4G service will increase accordingly during this time, and greater brand interest may be generated by a forward facing approach, which stresses the operator’s dedication to allowing consumers to make the most out of their portable device on the 4G network, as soon as possible.

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