Cost turns UK punters off 3G – survey

Counting the pennies

Researchers are warning the mobile phone industry that the high cost of phone calls and handsets could dent the uptake of 3G mobile technology.

According to the Work Foundation, people in the UK worry about the cost of using mobile phones far more than is commonly assumed.

Report authors James Crabtree, Max Nathan and Simon Roberts say: "This misunderstanding of British attitudes to phone use threatens to delay the uptake of 3G mobile technology, or make 3G attractive to only a small number of consumers."

"Our research suggests that the mobile industry must remember how important cost is to most people who buy and use mobile phones. The industry is aware of this but it doesn't change the fact that until 3G becomes better value most consumers will find it an expensive worry too far."

The authors point out that with the cost of running a 3G phone reaching more than £600 a year it is far too expensive for most ordinary users, who currently spend well under half that sum.

However, a spokesman for Hutchison 3G, the UK's first 3G network, dismisses the report: "We believe our pricing is competitive. We believe we've achieved the right balance between good value for customers and generating something that is economically sustainable.

"This is a mass market consumer proposition and is priced accordingly," he said.

Whatever the debate over 3G, it's clear that people in the UK love their mobile phones, even though they may whinge about the running costs.

Eight out of ten adults and nine out of ten children own one even though many people believe their mobile phones are expensive and addictive.

The Work Foundation report MobileUK: Mobile Phones and Everyday Life, was funded by Microsoft and PricewaterhouseCoopers. You can buy a copy for ten quid from the web site. ®
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