Research Outline

4G: Consumer Studies


To gather studies from reputable research companies on consumer attitudes toward 4G. Specifically, the studies should prove that consumers were confused about 4G, did not understand it, and made aspirational purchases related to the technology before it became available.

Early Findings

McKinsey&Company, "Seizing the 4G Opportunity"

  • The report was published in January 2012.
  • It includes the statement that consumers lack sufficient knowledge about 4G because operators don't explain its benefits and costs.
  • The statement is backed by results of a consumer survey, which include quantitative data points on consumer demand for 4G and willingness to pay more for it, as well as key buying criteria for smartphone packages.

Deloitte, "The State of the Global Mobile Consumer, 2013"

  • Deloitte's report, published in January 2014, includes data from multiple developed and developing countries on how many consumers are likely to subscribe to LTE in the next 12 months and how they perceive LTE speed.
  • While the report doesn't focus on the lack of understanding of 4G or making aspirational purchases related to it, it shows that a significant percentage of subscribers didn't know whether it was faster or didn't see a difference.

Helpful Findings

  • Two potentially helpful studies, by Retrevo and In-Stat, are no longer featured on the companies' websites, though they have been heavily cited by the media.
  • Mashable mentions that according to Retrevo's "Gadgetology" study, 29% of Android owners, 34% of iPhone owners, and 24% of Blackberry owners believed that they had smartphones with 4G network before it was actually available.
  • In 2011, Wired reported that In-Stat, a research marketing firm, found that 75% of consumers list 4G among their ideal smartphone features, even though most of them "don't know which carrier offers the fastest 4G speeds."
  • In Q2 2012, Parks Associates published a report, "Driving 4G Adoption: Global Mobile Innovation." While it is paid, the free preview includes a chart of consumers' familiarity with terms "4G" and "LTE." According to the chart, relatively few people were familiar with the term "LTE," even though over 50% knew the term "4G."

Summary of Findings

According to the early research, there are very few studies on 4G adoption that focus or touch upon the requested topics. The only relevant sources we came across (excluding the studies by Nielsen and Yankee) were summarized or mentioned above. Some of the other available reports focus on adoption among businesses. There are also articles by industry experts and non-profit organizations, such as the one published by New America, which provide in-depth insights on the topic.