26/04/2013

4G – The Hype Explained

The introduction of 4G is going to bring a whole new wave of technological advances along with it. It has not just made a small bound in improving the services currently available through 3G, it has made a massive leap, offering internet speeds up to 5 times faster! If you’re accustomed to losing much of the functionality of your mobile once out of a wi-fi hotspot, such as email or video calling, then help is on its way. 4G will take away any discrimination people have about surfing the web on their mobile or tablet whilst not connected to wi-fi, the internet will be the internet and nothing less, where ever you are.

Screenshot from EE website: 4G Coverage

Currently EE are the only 4G providers, however, Vodafone and O2 should be joining the 4G revolution this summer with Three following later on in the year. The coverage at the moment isn’t great unless you live in a major city, although around 50% of the population is covered, this really is only in built up areas. The picture on the right shows the current 4G coverage in the United Kingdom, the blue/green areas are those in which 4G is available (click on the picture to take you to 4G coverage checker). So, on the south coast, Southampton are one of the only cities to be currently benefiting from 4G. Don’t worry though, this summer its set to increase to cover a total of 80 towns and cities and by 2014 98% of the country should be covered!

4G will bring with it true mobile internet connectivity, giving users benefits they may not have even thought of. There will be true continuity in how you use the web at home and on the move and the opportunity to stream movies, TV, video conference and shop online with no buffering or loading. Businesses can also benefit from cloud based IT services with no worries of whether their mobile connection will actually gain them access. This will allow businesses to work dynamically from multiple locations.

The UK has the longest average commute time in Europe and with over 40% of the population now with a smartphone we have unusually long periods of time to watch, shop, read or even work on the move. Mobile ads are also going to be a big thing, with personalised messages and augmented reality potentially becoming the norm. There is a whole raft of possibilities for the use of 4G and London’s Air Ambulance is a charity using it to its full potential. No more waiting for details of their destination to be ran up an given to them on paper and no more plotting of routes on a map due to dodgy GPS signals in built up areas. Now all information is sent to the helicopter in a matter of seconds to its on-board iPad. This will then give the pilot directions automatically and host a whole range of details about the incident they are travelling too, updating via the 4G network as it goes. This will save them a matter of minutes every journey, and in their business that can be life saving.

So whilst it may be a few months until 4G is more widely available, and not until 2014 that 98% of the country will be covered, you can bet when it does arrive things will change. The video below shows how the speeds between 3G and 4G really can differ in the day to day use of your mobile. Will you be paying the extra on your phone bill to get 4G? Almost certainly one day you will.

Chris

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