eBay demands Ofcom action over mobile “notspots”

Auction site eBay has joined calls for Ofcom to force improvements in mobile broadband coverage, claiming the UK is missing out on £1.3 billion due to poor coverage and unreliable connections.

According to eBay research, flaky connections are driving away UK shoppers, with mobile commerce “notspots stretching from central London to the the Outer Hebrides”.

The research – carried out by Verdict on behalf of eBay – shows that 16% of the UK is an “m-commerce notspot”, where mobile spending is at least 20% below the national average. 

Sparsely populated areas, such as the Scottish highlands and islands, rural Wales and rural counties of England are the worst affected, eBay said.

Consumers and retailers are missing out as the cost and reliability of mobile broadband prevents shoppers from spending

However, figures showed that mobile shopping was also under-performing in certain heavily populated areas like central London, because of poor broadband reliability and coverage.

eBay said it was calling on Ofcom to take action to support m-commerce and help the sector realise its potential, as the regulator decides on how best to sell licences for 4G.

“Mobile shopping represents a massive opportunity not just for retailers, but for the economy as a whole,” said Angus McCarey, UK retail director for eBay UK.

“But our research shows that consumers and retailers are missing out as the cost and reliability of mobile broadband prevents shoppers from spending.

“High quality and reliable mobile broadband coverage throughout the UK has to be our ambition, giving consumers choice over when and how they shop, encouraging spending, thereby benefiting online and high street retail, and giving a much needed boost to the fragile economic recovery.”

The comments come weeks after a group of MPs lobbied Ofcom – which is currently consulting on next year’s 4G auctions – to increase coverage requirements to take in more of the UK.


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