The introduction of 4G mobile Internet for the UK in October by Everything Everywhere marked the beginning of what promises to be a new era for businesses and the Internet. With more networks set to arrive in 2013 as part of a multi billion pound spectrum sale, businesses will be able to enjoy the next generation of mobile phone speeds, with 4G offering much faster download and upload rates, stabler signals, and a larger capacity than previous 3G phones. How, then, can 4G affect your business?
The clearest benefit associated with 4G comes through its faster speeds, estimated at about 10 Mbps to 50 Mbps for downloads, and possibly higher depending on the connection. About 10 to 19 Mbps is given as a standard, although this can vary. With faster speeds, 4G can provide instant page loading, rapid app downloading, and the ability to use navigation apps like Google Maps without lag. Users can also download and stream entertainment more quickly, and can upload and share data through the cloud.
For businesses, 4G consequently allows you to do many of your current tasks at a faster speed. This might involve video conferencing, sending files, downloading and using apps, and connecting with other businesses. Without having to wait for signals to pick up, you can transfer larger files, hold longer and higher quality video calls with clients and colleagues, and run virtual private networks and security software through the cloud without having to put up with slow speeds.
In the future, 4G will be able to make it more economical for businesses to use fast Internet connections in and outside of the office. Businesses that don’t want to rely on a fixed line system for their Internet can switch to more flexible 4G contracts, while businesses in rural areas may be able to use 4G prior to the connection of their area to a fibre optic broadband connection.
However, there are still some questions over how quickly 4G can be adapted, and whether or not businesses can find better deals once Everything Everywhere, a partnership between Orange and T Mobile, is joined by Vodafone, O2, and other networks. The data limits on EE’s contracts are still relatively low compared to the premium cost of a subscription, with £56 only getting you 8GB. Compatible handsets are also quite expensive, with only high end phones being available at present. EE are, however, offering the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE phone with 4G as part of a £41 deal.
Prices will likely decrease as more networks join in the 4G market, and when services are expanded from their current use in 16 UK cities to include the rest of the country. As with 3G, this will take some time. It’s also important to remember that, given the speed by which mobile phone technology is advancing, it won’t be long before tests for 5G mobile Internet will be a reality. Researchers at the University of Surrey are already testing out mobile Internet that could provide 200 Mbps download speeds – although some way off, 4G and new generation broadband speeds promise to make using the Internet for work a new experience in terms of speed.
Liam Ohm writes about technology and business. He believes it is worth looking into using a .net development agency to ensure your business is working efficiently online. In his spare time he enjoys networking, web developing and reading.