4G will not give operators a boost to revenues, as the UK's position as the world's most competitive mobile market will continue to drive prices down.
New research from Ofcom said UK consumers pay significantly less money than their European counterparts and their mobile bills are almost a third of what shoppers in the United States pay. Ofcom's research revealed that the average price paid by UK consumers fell by 23% during the past 12 months. The regulator cited the highly competitive state of the UK market, driven by the price competitiveness of Three and healthy MVNO sector including Tesco Mobile.
Operators had originally hoped that 4G would lead to an uptick in the price paid for mobile services but prices have come down from when EE first came to market in late 2012 and Three has promised not to charge any extra for 4G services. James Thickett, director of research at Ofcom, said he believed O2 and Vodafone's entry into the 4G market would not lead to Britons paying more for mobile. He said: 'The innovation and competition are managing to keep prices down. With 4G coming in, that trend will continue.'
The report found smartphone penetration sat at 66%, ahead of most major economies apart from Spain (74%) and China (88%). Britons were also opting for tablets in greater numbers than other countries. Only China (57%), Spain (46%) and Australia (45%) tracked ahead of the UK's tablet penetration of 42%.
Thickett added: 'The report confirms that consumers in the UK are benefiting from one of the world's most price competitive marketplaces for communications services. Telecoms bills have been falling in real terms in the UK for the past 10 years. However, consumers are not just benefiting from cheaper deals - they are also getting much more for less, as the quality and range of telecoms services has expanded hugely in that time.'