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4G is the future, but not yet

Firstly, it’s important to understand that though people say ‘4G’ as singular, it actually refers to a number of different types of technology, with different implementations, in different areas, to differing levels of capability. The term ‘4G’ hides a wide variety of highly complicated technologies.

Though there’s plenty of excitement around 4G, it’s not without its challenges. Fixed line is still the critical issue for businesses and the greatest contributor to business productivity. The main problem is that there are clear issues around ubiquity and reliability for 4G, as even now, 3G has issues. Until 4G truly has universal availability, it won’t be able to compete with fixed line. There needs to be a good level of reliability and penetration for businesses to run with 4G, and this will improve over time. 3G still has some way to go, but we need to continuously push technologies forward to ensure they advance.

The way to deal with this requirement is to implement a technology that makes up for challenges with connectivity, ensuring that data is distributed smartly. Everyone talks about the best case scenario with connectivity, but usually things are very different. It’s important that the experience is seamless.

This is not to say that 4G isn’t a great connectivity solution in the future. 4G can allow for very fast data rates without laying any cables, so if there’s a stable connection it can provide great bandwidth and capacity at a cheaper cost. Additionally there’s the potential for businesses to access capacities that otherwise wouldn’t be available. But we’re still not there yet. Bear in mind, 4G will only have been rolled out in 16 UK cities before the end of the year.

However, there won’t really be any disadvantage for businesses in cities that receive 4G later than others, purely because their offices will presumably have good fixed-line capacity. But on top of that, though increased bandwidth can lead to new business models and ways of working, at the moment the big issues with bandwidth are around video, which is not necessarily a big business driver.

Another thing we have forgotten with fixed line is that this technology is improving too. How much do some businesses need to work on the move? More often than not, when you need more bandwidth and you’re sat in an office, fixed line is the way to go.

Pervasive networking is the nirvana – allowing users to link into the best available network technology at any given time. It’s hard for one technology to provide all of the connectivity, so we need more creative technologies to enable pervasive networking. It would be ideal if the government could step in to help facilitate innovation and drive this forward.

In the meantime, smart data distribution is the key to ensuring businesses can maximise the value they extract from their data, regardless of their connectivity capability.



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