4G Focus: Businesses Looking at 4G to Boost Efficiency and Productivity

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By David Gilbert | November 15, 2012 3:18 AM EST


As the world moves to the cloud and people want to be connected all the time, the launch of 4G in the UK could provide a key factor in promoting growth for many UK businesses.

A survey carried out by EE, which launched the UK's first 4G network two weeks ago, in conjunction with global management consultancy, Arthur D. Little indicates that more than seven out of ten UK businesses will upgrade to 4G within 12 months.

Martin Stiven, vice president of business at EE, believes the reason businesses want to upgrade is to do with efficiency and productivity.

"What 4G does, when you look at the massive advances in smartphone technology, by putting 4G into that link, it provides high speed access to all of those cloud-based solutions while on the move."

"That's got to drive efficiency and much better productivity for a lot of businesses because they are going to be able to do things they weren't able to do before."

With simple tasks like downloading large attachments, you may not consider doing this on a 3G connection considering average speeds can be less than 2Mbps, but with a 4G connection it becomes a lot more efficient.

One industry which could benefit in a big way is the media industry, with some outlets considering using 4G instead of satellite trucks.

"People out and about on the move, want to download very large files on location, or stream video on location, all of a sudden that is going to be possible. It will be transformative in the way businesses use it."

Media

While download speeds may be grabbing all the attention with some people recording speeds of up to 40Mbps in the past couple of weeks, 4G also comes with the benefits of much improved upload speeds, and this is one area businesses can look to take advantage of.

"What we know is that upload speeds are often quite disappointing on all sorts of broadband and we are seeing phenomenal upload speeds [on 4G] that make [applications] workable in the field.

"I think we will see a range of things develop out of [improved upload speeds] so we can see in the media world there is real appetite for this."

Stiven also speaks about the need for rapid deployment, which will benefit businesses such as construction sites or retail pop-up shops where they can use a Mi-Fi device and connect up to five devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets) to get quick access to high speed broadband.

Aggressive advertising

Since the launch on the 30 October, EE has carried out an aggressive advertising campaign online, in newspapers, on TV, on billboards and even in the cinema. This was done to promote the new service but to also inform the public about the new EE brand and what exactly 4G is.

Stiven believes however, that businesses already know what 4G is and what is can do for their employees and customers:

"What we find with business customers actually is a lot of them do understand what EE is, they do understand 4G and its potential benefits and as you would expect with corporate customers, business customers, we have the time to work with them and to work through how they best want to work with [4G]."

Rural transformation

As well as providing more people with superfast broadband on the move, 4G has the potential to give those living in rural areas access to a decent broadband signal for the first time, with fixed-line roll out not being able to reach certain areas of the country.

EE carried out trials in Cornwall and Cumbria to test the potential for replacing traditional fixed-line broadband with 4G: " We are very committed to exploring the opportunities 4G will give to rural communities. What we saw in those communities were some real tangible benefits; where customers became very accustomed to having high-speed 4G on a mobile device.

4G could fill in the gaps in the rural areas with the company promising to cover 70 percent of the country by the end of 2013, rising to 98 percent by the end of 2014.

"What we know is that where the BT coverage will not allow it, we know that where we provide rural coverage there are fantastic opportunities for those businesses to take 4g as their core high-speed capability."

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