Will 4G Be Undermined by the Growth of Free Wi-Fi

2014 saw the increasing rollout of 4G, with more and more cities being added. EE have the largest coverage in the UK with the other networks starting to catch up.

This represents a large investment by the companies, which is in addition to the £2.3 billion already paid for the licences.   But I wonder, will it yield the expected benefits for the operators?

Most people will need to upgrade their phones to take advantage of the service, which is not cheap.  EE’s service costs over £40 per month for several GB of data which a couple of hours of video will soon use up.  The different carriers are offering various incentives to sign with them

The challenge for the 4G operators is the fact that free Wi-Fi is becoming ever more available. Even the mobile providers are in on the act as Vodafone and O2 users now get free Wi-Fi on most of the central London Underground.

It is almost impossible to walk into a coffee shop and not get free Wi-Fi.  Many other places are similar and Time Out helpfully provides a guide to hotspots in London http://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/where-to-find-free-wi-fi-in-london-9

It is not just in London. I saw a bus in Oxford last week offering free Wi-Fi on board and it is pretty standard too on trains, in first class.

So if there is all this free Wi-Fi about, which from my experience is generally fast enough to watch things such as iPlayer, why would I pay £500 a year on my mobile to get 4G?  I’ll be interested to know what you think. So please do add your comments below.