How will 4G affect free WiFi usage?

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At the moment the only network in the UK to offer 4G is EE in 95 towns and cities across the country, with plans to expand their offering to 98% of the population by 2014. The next two networks, Vodafone and O2, will both launch their 4G network on 29th August. Vodafone are to launch theirs to the City of London, with plans to extend it to 12 more cities by the end of the year. O2 are also launching in London as well as Leeds and Bradford, and plans to extend to a further 10 cities by the end of 2013.

EE’s 4G tariff starts from £21 per month, on a sim-only deal, with unlimited calls and texts but a measly 500mb of data. O2 and Vodafone have yet to confirm their tariffs, however O2 announced earlier this week that their basic 4G tariff would start from £26 per month.

Listening to Radio 1’s Newsbeat earlier this week, I heard them interviewing a EE 4G customer about the use of the network and her data allowance. Ruth Schofield, 22 from Leeds, has been on this plan for several months and has unlimited calls and texts – but just a 750mb data allowance. For this she pays £36 per month.

Ruth says that the faster connection means she finds herself using more data, as such she’s constantly looking for WiFi hotspots when she’s out and about as every month she uses every bit of her data allowance. Ruth mainly uses the internet on her phone to check and update social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest etc. You can see the story on the Newsbeat website here.

With the major networks looking to roll out 4G nationwide, and most tariffs offering unlimited calling plans, it’s fair to suspect that the network providers are going to try and start making their money by charging for data. EE offer the ability to purchase add-on’s with one-off fees of £6 for 500mb or £15 for 2GB, or to upgrade the tariff to one with more data allowance. EE don’t offer a 4G tariff with unlimited data usage, with 20GB being the biggest option starting from £61 per month.

However, I believe that people will opt to do exactly what Ruth Schofield does – and will look to connect to FREE WiFi hotspots wherever they can to preserve their data allowance with their network provider.

Offering FREE WiFi in your business could attract people like Ruth through your door. Someone that’s connected to the world of social media and enjoys tweeting, posting and pinning whilst out with their friends, that is looking for a WiFi connection. She would probably quite happily recommend your business to her contacts as a result of connecting to your WiFi and if you offer Purple WiFi in your venue, you’ll also benefit from a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn connection too.

For further information about Purple WiFi and how it could benefit your business or brand, please take a look at our website, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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