Ever-faster communication has become an essential pre-requisite to business. So where does 4G fit in and what difference will it make for the enterprise?
4G, which is to say the ‘fourth generation’ of mobile communication, has been steadily rolling out over the past couple of years. There are currently 203 million 4G mobile subscribers worldwide with the figure expected to go up to 1.8 billion by 20201.
Following on from its predecessor, 3G, it is the latest evolution of wireless broadband that dramatically improves speed and user experience across mobiles, tablets, dongles and laptops and any device with mobile connectivity.
There’s no denying the pivotal role that mobile connectivity now plays within business. It’s the technology that frees people from their desks, to work in more flexible ways, to get closer to customers and to gain access to those all-important files just when they need them.
Mobile devices have become the technology of choice for the digital native generation, who are beginning to fill up the workforce armed with a more sophisticated knowledge of technology than the generations that have come before them and, as a consequence, greater expectations of flexibility over how, where and what they work on. Born and bred on cloud technologies, social media, mobile applications and rich content such as video, their insatiable appetite for bandwidth makes having a robust mobile strategy an imperative part of planning for tomorrow’s working world.
It isn’t just digital natives who have become inseparable from their devices. IDG’s 2014 Mobile Survey revealed that the number of C-Suite executives consuming video content on their tablets is near equal with Millennials (91% vs 92%), while 77% of executives use their smartphones to research business-related products and services2.
Connected technologies are also becoming increasingly important to the economy, with a recent report published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) describing broadband networks, services, and applications as technologies that can help generate economic growth3.
The faster and more responsive mobile broadband gets the better this is for business. So what can your business expect to gain from 4G?
Four ways 4G will benefit your business
While standard calls will not be affected by 4G, employees have the opportunity to connect and collaborate through real-time HD video calling. With 4G connectivity, businesses no longer need to tolerate poor quality visual and audio conferencing and can instead turn to higher quality HD conference calling. And again, while this will not impact text messaging, apps that use data to send messages will become significantly faster making it even easier for teams to stay in constant contact.
Employee user experience
4G delivers a faster and more user-friendly mobile experience, with improved security, communication and collaboration out of the office. Emails take less time to download and less time is spent buffering when you want to watch a video presentation.
Having all the functionality of a desktop from any device and in any location gives employees greater freedom to work flexibly without impeding their ability to do their jobs. Meetings can be joined by video conference, large reports can be collaborated on, files can always be accessed and most importantly time wasted on lengthy commutes can be claimed back for activities that support a greater work-life balance and create more engaged and effective employees.
4G was built for data in a way that 3G never was. Typical latency on 4G is considered to be between 60 and 70 miliseconds, compared with 100 to 125ms available over a 3G network4. Put into practice this means a one second buffer on video streaming via 4G (vs. 20 seconds on 3G), or 1 second to upload an image on 4G (vs. 25 seconds on 3G)5. This makes sending and receiving those all-important files, facts and figures possible for all employees, all of the time. The decision-maker on business in South Africa can just as easily gain access to and sign-off a budget or report as if they were in the office.