Most businesses have benefited from high-speed internet to their premises for a long time. Email, VOIP, video conferencing, collaboration tools and research has become an essential part of everyday business life. Fortunately, our internet connections have kept up and made these key processes incredibly easy. Even home internet connections are starting to reach business-level speeds, which is enabling working from home as a real alternative to the old way of working.
However, there is an elephant in the room that working professionals seem to gloss over. Our current mobile internet connections are extremely poor for the business tasks talked about above, as well as tethering across multiple devices. 3G/HSDPA may be able to achieve respectable speeds, but it’s still suffering from poor coverage in some areas and will never be able to achieve the low latency require for effective video conferencing. Moreover, signal congestion is becoming a real problem as the UK’s population continues to increase at an exponential rate.
The answer to these problems was previously thought to be Wi-Fi hotspots in more convenient locations – trains, supermarkets and restaurants for example. However, these services have messy user experiences requiring personal information to create accounts as well as ridiculous data caps, poor speeds and high prices for extended usage. Some even block VPN usage, which is inadequate for security-conscious businesses.
The real answer for the mobile data conundrum is 4G (also known as LTE in some territories). It offers rapid internet speeds (for both upstream and downstream bandwidth) and a truly business-class solid connection. Furthermore, it offers low latency, which should prove crucial going forward as all forms of communication become internet-based. An overlooked aspect of the new technology is IPv6 support. As the world’s IPv4 addresses become exhausted, IPv6 will become essential. With all of these combined features, 4G is no doubt the future of mobile data. People are constantly connected to the internet, and the demand for connections which match that demand has increased exponentially.
However, there are some problems with how 4G is being rolled out in the UK. The process is taking too long, and this has led to EE (formerly Everything Everywhere, the holders of T-Mobile UK and Orange UK) launching their own 4G service before the official 4G signal spectrum auction takes place. This has created its own problems, as some customers believe that EE’s contract prices are far too high plus users have to get a whole new device, SIM and contract to use the service. EE is also facing bad feedback for their slow rollout, with only the major UK cities currently covered. Additionally, the restrictive data caps have created some frustration. Despite this, reviews believe the service is significantly faster than 3G.
Fortunately, EE’s problems will be fixed over time. Once more competition appears on the market, there will be more consumer choice and more demand for cost-effective services. Businesses should remain calm until that time; otherwise they will run the risk of getting locked-in to costly contracts. Regardless of what you decide is best for your business; 4G is definitely the future. It’s faster than some home internet connections, supports most (if not all) business services and will become the standard for mobile data communication.