News that Everything, Everywhere (EE) is one step closer to flogging a quarter of the 1800Mhz spectrum it currently owns has once again thrust the issue of 4G mobile broadband networks into the tech news spotlight.
Once the sale is complete EE wants to use the remaining spectrum to set up its own 4G network this year, ahead of rival network providers.
The benefits for business are obvious, when 4G coverage reaches 3G levels it won’t just be homes or hotels with wi-fi connections that are extensions of the office. In fact, any employee within reach of a 4G signal can be constantly connected to the workplace, with a connection that will make it seem as if they are in the office, whether they are in bed or on the bus.
In the US, Deloitte estimates that between 2012-2016 4G networks could account for “$73-$151 billion in GDP growth” and lead to the creation of between “371,000-771,000 new jobs”. It’s easy to see why the UK government has been eager to catch-up in the creation of its own 4G network.
Despite the dizzying figures involved, however, the UK has actually been rather slow in getting its act together. America has had 4G services up and running for years but UK regulators are still to auction off the wireless spectrum needed to operate them leaving many people and the business community frustrated. But it’ll be worth the wait. Here’s why.
Businesses of all sizes will be looking to take advantage of 4G services to give employees fast, stable, secure connections to the office. 4G will operate at speeds likely to exceed the speed of most home broadband connections.
Thanks to this higher bandwidth and throughput, businesses will see vast improvement in areas like HD video-conferencing services, the transfer and synchronising of large files and data between offices and homes and the ability to seamlessly connect and collaborate on business critical information. Even though actual speeds will be much lower than the stated maximums the effect will be much more practical speeds that allow businesses users to get on and do.
4G services also improve on areas where at present 3G mobile broadband falls short of consumer expectations. Signal reliability is vastly improved in 4G areas. The one saving grace of the extra time it is taking the UK to auction off its 4G spectrum is that it will be spread across a wide range of wavelengths, allowing 4G networks to penetrate across vast distances.
The UK government has announced plans to use old analogue TV spectrum to extend 4G specifically to areas which at present lack decent broadband services. This will give businesses in rural and other areas without a fast physical broadband connection the chance to be able to take full advantage of online business tools and services.
In the US, whilst 4G is already up and running there are concerns that 4G services there will grind to a halt once consumer and business uptake hits a peak level. The US government has been accused of failing to allocate enough bandwidth on the spectrum to cope with the future demand. Because of the delay in the UK, that shouldn’t be as much of a problem here.
The international adoption of 4G LTE services will also allow global businesses to roll out LTE to their employees without worrying about worldwide compatibility. Not only is 4G futureproof it’s backwards compatible with 3G networks. All in all, business can expect big things from 4G. With more and more business critical services and operations moving to cloud-based services, the combination of 4G and the cloud to provide fast, stable access will allow greater efficiency and productivity within organisations, big and small.