Politicians are preparing for tonight’s debate on BBC, as the leaders of seven political parties will debate over the upcoming general election. The live discussion will undoubtedly bring up the Conservative governments pledge to build a digital infrastructure and make 22 cities SuperCities by the end of the year- a move retailers are welcoming.
Purple WiFi, a cloud-based social WiFi software company, has examined the potential outcome for retailers, having already connected the city of York.
CEO of Purple WiFi, Gavin Wheeldon believes that free WiFi is a “hot political issue for the election ahead”, arguing that without it UK retailers cannot compete on an international level”.
He continues: “The current government are already investing over £1 bn to improve the mobile and broadband infrastructure. If all goes to plan by 2016 Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) will provide 90% of the country with super-fast broadband coverage. With election pledges coming in fast, improving the economy has to be at the top of the agenda”.
Wheeldon believes that no matter who wins the election, the ‘22 SuperConnected’ UK cities will benefit from the digital infrastructure, arguing that free WiFi should work hand in hand with the pledge and that with this, businesses would see a bigger footfall of customers. They would be able to access information easily and connect with whomever they choose, “at the touch of a button”
Internet of Everything
It is estimated that by 2020 there will be 26.5bn physical objects embedded with technology in an industry worth $1.9tn. Wheeldon argues that this means stakeholders, tech businesses, resellers and service providers will need to understand “the opportunity, the value and their role in developing Smart Cities”.
Universal WiFi will allow customers to navigate around the high street and shopping centres more easily, improving their environment and spending money in venues that, “genuinely meet their needs”.
The outdoor WiFi market is expected to rise from $15bn per year to $38bn in 2018, with the indoor market expected to be considerably more. “I think the key word here is potential. Who doesn’t want to be part of an industry that’s said to be worth $408 bn by 2020?” Wheeldon declares, foreseeing the change as a big game player for the future of retail.
By making WiFi universal, businesses and shopping will become easier, attracting, “ talented people and new businesses to the city”
Mobile in particular will benefit from an increase in WiFi, as the International Data Corporation found that global businesses must be engaged with more than 3bn mobile subscribers using 6bn connected devices, “making mobile devices so pervasive that business priorities for the use of messaging services are aligned across regions”.
The data found that the UK has the highest expectations when it comes to mobile messaging driving brand awareness. 59% of this region’s respondents believe that mobile messaging has a considerable or major impact on increasing brand awareness. IDC declares that the common language spoken in the UK, alongside the native conditioning to non-traditional commerce channels has created an advantage for brands using mobile messaging.
The success of mobile platforms ties in nicely with the increase in outdoor markets. Wheeldon expects the changes to take place whichever party comes out on top next month:
“It’s a win, win situation and I hope whoever stands on the steps of number 10 on Friday May 8th will continue with this investment. Without it the UK cannot compete”