EE’s move to double the speed of its 4G network in 10 major UK cities this summer could be a real boon for consumers and enterprise alike – but only if services become more attractively priced and personal data allowances are given a similar boost.
The improvements to EE’s service would deliver real-world speeds of 80Mbps, enabling smartphones to transmit high-definition video just as fast as fibre optic broadband and establishing the UK network among the world’s fastest.
However, the current tariff structure for 4G services may prevent individuals and organisations from reaping the full benefits of the next generation of mobile Internet. Public awareness of the benefits of 4G may be rising – a recent survey revealed that nearly three quarters of people now know what the technology is – but cost is increasingly a concern.
Certainly, early adopters of 4G in the UK have been paying more than they might have hoped, and the data packages seem slightly underpowered when you consider that 4G was supposed to open the door to a richer and deeper mobile Internet experience.
But it is not just individual consumers who may be put off by the price of 4G. Businesses may be missing out on potentially significant productivity benefits. With more and more organisations supporting remote working through BYOD schemes, employees are increasingly reliant on their smartphone Internet connection to work effectively while out of the office. The extra speed of 4G can help them do more, faster.
But if data allowances and price plans stay at their current levels, the risk of running up mammoth bills will continue to put off employees and employers alike, and vital productivity measures will be threatened.
With the spectrum auction concluded and other major networks poised to launch their own 4G offerings from the summer, I’d expect that situation to change as competition drives prices down and data allowances up. Only then will smaller organisations in particular have the confidence to embrace the new generation of mobile connectivity.