One of the biggest benefits of 4G to business will be mobile video and the possibilities it presents for true “hyper-mobility” – the ability to work whenever and wherever you are. For mobile business subscribers, 4G network speed promises to improve voice, video and browsing performance, quality and reliability. This will push mobile devices more fully into the realm of mobile PCs in terms of overall capabilities.
Thanks to increased bandwidth and throughput capabilities, subscribers should feel secure in the knowledge that their phones will perform when asked. Businesses will save money and benefit from enhanced security because voice and data will be travelling through a separate, dedicated transmission line. Employees can optimise their time without being chained to a computer, both at home and on the go, and can keep on top of work at any time, wherever they are.
Mobile video as a business tool
4G should move mobile video truly into the realm of being a useful business tool. HD video, telepresence and video-enhanced augmented reality (AR) will all be at the disposal of business users with 4G, and all of these things will be possible via their smartphones, or – who knows – even devices like Project Glass, Google’s recently announced augmented reality glasses.
4G should make mobile video faster, smoother, better. Video conferencing should be a vastly improved experience, conducted in real time, as should live streaming of audio and video. With widespread 4G coverage, “hyper-mobility” might become a reality for business workers who no longer have to be tied to a physical location. With a smartphone, employees will be able to do their work wherever they are – at home, in the field, or on the road.
For operators, mobile video offers an opportunity to drive revenues, grow ARPU and provide differentiation with better mobile video services for business customers. Thus they’ll be keen to drive the notion of mobile video for business to their subscribers. They will want business video to be a core, reliable service for business users, helping to promote collaboration, communication and education.
Why 4G won’t work
Among subscribers and even operators, it is quite a common belief that 4G will solve all network capacity issues. But once the honeymoon period is over, and subscribers start to use 4G in earnest to deliver on all the social and corporate promises that have been made, networks will start to feel the true impact of the mobile data storm: network congestion, mostly from video traffic, will gum up the works, leaving a frustrating mobile experience for all subscribers, and certainly for people trying to conduct business.
In the same way that adding another lane to a motorway doesn’t solve the traffic congestion problem, so 4G networks will be unable to cope as usage skyrockets and people increasingly demand that their mobile devices deliver high-performance, data-hungry services.
Pick your mobile business operator carefully
Operators have obligations to their customers and, as a business customer, you need to lobby your operator to ensure sound service on 4G networks. You should be able to demand that your 4G provider give you policy-driven services such as enterprise-wide mobile anti-virus and protection against unauthorised browsing.
In addition, they should be willing to provide BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) – full service on any device, even devices that they do not provide. Your mobile operator should also be able to support high-quality video experience on any device if you plan to include video in your business services.
For business users, it is crucial to pick your 4G carrier with care. Talk to them and find out how they plan to deliver a suitable video experience and honour SLAs. As an organisation, you need to know and understand the benefits and consequences of an operator’s 4G policy. In turn operators will realise that you understand the dangers of 4G; that you understand that usage will go up and that networks could be just as congested as with 3G, if not more.
Mobile network congestion management is key
Currently, even the most advanced of today’s mobile data optimisation techniques are still applied to reduce overall network traffic volume. Instead, operators need to focus on network congestion, which has the most damaging impact on the user experience.
By shifting the focus of optimisation away from overall volume reduction to predicting and eliminating congestion just before it occurs, operators can provide a satisfying user experience at all times, while keeping the cost of network and capacity expansion investment manageable.
If you rely on a mobile operator who does not use congestion management and video management systems, expect all your mobile services – but especially mobile video – to be no better than they are with 3G. To enjoy all the potential benefits that 4G offers, and to transform that potential into real business benefits, it comes down to you, the mobile business customer. Speak up and transform ‘hyper-mobility’ from a pipe dream into the real thing.