2013 has been branded ‘the year of 4G adoption’ – 4G being the fourth-generation mobile internet infrastructure. With a rising trend in businesses adopting mobile working strategies, it is clear that consumers and businesses alike will be looking to explore the benefits that this latest technology brings to the market. But while these benefits are seemingly compelling, adopting 4G represents a significant financial investment for businesses, with increased tariff and data consumption charges likely to be scrutinized heavily by any Finance Director.
The consumer applications of 4G spread far and wide. Users armed with these high-speed mobile internet connections are able to use complex web services (such as Skype and live video streaming) which previously relied on fixed connections. This, together with the increasing amount of personal information being stored remotely (in the cloud), is helping to further integrate these.
Meanwhile, 4G is also an attractive proposition to both small and enterprise businesses. With the lack of a ubiquitous global Wi-Fi infrastructure and 3G networks increasingly under strain, the idea of employees being constantly connected via a ‘super-fast’ mobile internet connection is key. Previously, slow and unreliable mobile internet connections restricted employees to basic tasks such as sending and receiving emails and other low-data consumption tasks. The introduction of 4G now facilitates the usage of complex office productivity tools, file sharing, video conferencing and other heavy data-orientated tasks on the move. Businesses that empower employees with 4G are able to establish fully-operational offices almost anywhere, thereby increasing the agility and responsiveness of these mobile workforces.
However, businesses not equipping their workforce with 4G run the risk of losing competitive advantage as competitors productivity levels soar. This poses a bigger problem for businesses located outside of 4G coverage and favors those located within concentrated urbanized markets. Competing on a global scale is increasingly important and, without the ability to adopt 4G, businesses are vulnerable against more efficient overseas competitors.
The end of 2012 saw 4G networks deployed in 59 countries, clearly outlining the growing appetite for the new technology. The news that the Chinese government is prioritizing its investments in 4G is a strong indication of the high regard this technology is held in rapidly developing markets.
4G is quickly becoming commonplace as are expectations of flexible and mobile workforces, therefore those not adopting the new technology will be, or at least perceived to be, at a disadvantage and lagging behind. With traditional office-based workforces becoming a thing of the past, as well increased productivity by domestic and foreign competitors, businesses may find themselves having to adopt in order to compete. However, even keeping up with the crowd might not be enough for businesses to differentiate themselves with the constant and relentless evolution of mobile technologies; as is evident in South Korea where businesses are surging on and will soon have access to 5G technologies.
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