Everything Everywhere – formerly Orange and T-Mobile – have just received permission to roll out their next-generation 4G network across the UK in Autumn. What does this mean, if you use a digital device on-the-move?
The company has, to the chagrin of other mobile operators in the UK, been granted access to coveted radio bands which are suitable for broadcasting the first genuinely high-speed data-dedicated mobile broadband service in the country. And that’s going to change the mobile business landscape like a hurricane. Here’s why.
Do you do your work on-the-go? Probably. At least a little bit of it – there’s a reason why the notebook has risen to such greater popularity than its desktop comrade. A host of services have been opening up all over the web to allow for better mobile computing, from low-data synchronous collaboration tools to online project management software. But what are the brakes on progress? What’s slowing down adoption?
The simple answer is that our beautiful isle just isn’t blessed with consistently high-speed internet. 3G has been gradually clawing its way over the land, and that means you can get it most places. However, more and more people are waking up to internet services, using it for a range of consumer applications and sapping the bandwidth available for the constant-on connectivity that the modern business user needs.
4G promises to change all that. It offers up to 27Mbps (Megabits per second) download speeds, which is considerably higher than the average home broadband speed. Moreover, it can offer that more consistently, across a greater proportion of its network – 4G technology is very dissimilar to 3G technology in the bandwidth it offers, and in the way that it is able to maintain signal integrity during travel.
This last point is going to be a key distinguishing point for 4G in business. Using your laptop on the train need not be constrained by the whims of the train operator. Similarly, using a laptop on the bus, in the car – it’s all feasible. You can quite literally take a meeting while driving, through your in-car bluetooth system.
A key predictor of the value of this is going to be the uptake across a wider range of sectors of notebooks. Notebooks are still the most effective way to be productive on-the-move, though they are seeing increasing rivalry from a range of tablets as the iPad continues to eat into the laptop market. Their keyboard, though, makes them indispensable as office devices. 4G could really liberate them from the office – and make mobile business-making a real possibility. We’ll have to see how this plays out over the next year.