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Public sector drags feet in taking up 4G



Survey shows that lack of awareness and costs stand in way of wider adoption

Fewer than one in ten public sector mobile workers are using 4G technology, two years after its roll out began in the UK, according to a survey by research company YouGov.

Only 8% of the 456 respondents said their frontline workers were equipped with 4G connectivity, 42% were unaware of the benefits it could provide, and 30% saw the cost as an obstacle to adoption.

In addition, only 21% of leaders said they had adopted 4G in any way to date. This was despite the findings that 54% said that faster connectivity and download speeds – regarded as prime assets of 4G – were important to their organisations.

Against the figures on existing usage and lack of awareness of the benefits this suggests there is still a gap between the potential and immediate prospects for take-up of 4G.

Dissatisfaction reports

This could partly reflect reports of dissatisfaction among some existing 4G users. Late last year Which? published research showing the average download speed was 10.16Mbps, down from 19Mbps a year earlier, suggesting that bandwidth had been squeezed as more users had taken up the service.

But it is still faster and more robust than 3G networks, and in May of this year communications regulator Ofcom announced plans to auction more spectrum for 4G services.

The YouGov survey was sponsored by Vodafone, which along with Three and Telefonica has recently joined EE in offering 4G services.

Its head of public sector Mick Wayman said: “Armed with cost-effective mobile devices and 4G connectivity, frontline workers can access and update centralised records such as medical and criminal history while they are out in the field. This helps them to make better decisions in the moment, eliminates the need to go ‘back to base’ to complete paperwork and reduces time spent on administration.”

The company cited the Metropolitan Police as an example of an organisation that has begun to use 4G. Some of its officers are using tablets connected to the Vodafone network to access information and record witness statements while on the streets.

The survey also showed that, wehn asked to identify their top three priorities, those among respondents were to improve operational efficiency (62%), improve customer experience (51%) and reduce overall business costs (50%).

Image: Met Police are among the public sector pioneers in using 4G connected devices. Courtesy of Vodafone.



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