Internet giant eBay has claimed the slow roll-out of 4G on a nationwide scale is likely to cost the economy a staggering £120m over the festive period.

With many consumers now using phones as a ‘virtual store in their pockets’ a study from the online auction site has suggested slow connection speeds could hinder prospective sales this Christmas.

The report claims a nationwide roll-out of the 4G service would have boosted sales from around £373 million to almost £493 million.

According to eBay a combination of slow connection speeds, the customer’s payment timing out during a purchase and unpredictable network reliability will ultimately be the biggest barrier to people using their mobile devices for shopping this Christmas time – with the introduction of faster, more reliable 4G seen as a solution to such issues.

Clare Gilmartin, vice president of eBay Marketplaces Europe, said that while the firm fully welcomed the move by Ofcom to move forward the planned 4G spectrum auction to early 2013 – the lack of a universal 4G for another Christmas would be huge.

She said: “Mobile devices have become virtual stores in our pockets, giving us the ability to shop anytime, anywhere. But for consumers, it’s critical that the experience is quick, seamless and simple.

“Slow browsing speeds and breaking connections are now significant barriers to mobile commerce – and this comes at a high price.”

In total, eBay.co.uk expects over half their customers to use a mobile device as a means to browse the web this festive season. They also expect over a third of users to use their mobile for Christmas gift ideas and price checking. They also predict a third or their items this Christmas campaign will be purchased through the use of a smartphone. eBay’s aggressive PPC strategy is reliant on people being able to find items quickly – especially if the clock is ticking down on a timed auction.

At present, only the EE network has launched a range of 4G products and services – delivering speeds up to five times faster than the current 3G service provided by other networks.

However, following its launch on October 30, the service is only currently available in 11 areas, including London, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.

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