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EBay calls for better broadband coverage to boost m-commerce

Online marketplace eBay is calling for improvements to the quality of broadband coverage in the UK to boost mobile shopping and said m-commerce could deliver a £4.5bn boost to Britain’s economy over the next five years.

A study by eBay found that mobile shopping was on the verge of a potential four-fold increase in sales by 2016, as consumers become more comfortable with shopping on their handsets, but warned that unreliable mobile broadband could hamper sales.

M-commerce is expected to grow by a further £13bn by 2021, according to the research.

However, UK retailers are missing out on at least £1.3bn as a result of consumer frustrations with patchy coverage, unreliable connections and slow connection speeds which drive shoppers away.

In a submission to communications regulator Ofcom, eBay is calling on policy-makers to do more to address consumer frustrations when rules for the fourth generation (4G) of mobile networks are agreed later this year.

The report showed that 16% of the UK was an “m-commerce not-spot”, where mobile spending was at least 20% below the national average. Sparsely populated areas, such as the Scottish highlands and islands, rural Wales and rural counties of England were the worst affected.

But the evidence also showed that mobile shopping was underperforming in certain heavily populated areas like central London, with broadband reliability and coverage acting as a brake on the potential mobile retail market.

More than a third of consumers have failed to complete a purchase on their mobile due to issues with mobile broadband. EBay has called on Ofcom to take action to support m-commerce and help the sector realise its potential.

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