Prospect of 4G rollout fails to get IT leaders' pulse racing

By Sooraj Shah
31 Jul 2012 View Comments

Last week, the communications regulator Ofcom said that 4G could be rolled out by the end of 2013.

The statement has been welcomed by the mobile operators who are vying for the 4G spectrum, with O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere all stating that Ofcom's announcement was another step forward for "Digital Britain".

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But while mobile operators and consumers are anxiously awaiting the services, how does the 4G rollout affect industry, if at all?

According to Julian Ehrhardt, head of business at digital design start-up UsTwo, 4G services are not something that the firm is hankering after.

"It is a bit like getting a slightly faster car when you already have a car," he said.

In a campaign slammed by its rivals, Everything Everywhere stated that Britain "will see significant economic and social benefits from the introduction of 4G LTE mobile broadband".

It also found that 86 per cent of business leaders believed that access to a 4G network would increase productivity. Ehrhardt acknowledged that 4G could yield some benefits for the company.

"We look forward to being able to design more data-intensive mobile applications and experiences for our clients, widening the scope of business services that mobile solutions can deliver towards. It will also be nice to have better data cellular connection capabilities for our iPads for those on the move," he said.

4G services, Ehrhardt said, "would not ever really affect the business" but he welcomed better line quality for mobile calls.

"If it means we can use VoIP services for our calls on mobile then this will mean a cost saving as currently Skype et al are pretty terrible over 3G," he added.

The US, Korea, Japan and Germany all have 4G networks to support smartphones, and it has been claimed that the UK is far behind globally in terms of its network connectivity, but this is not the view of Ehrhardt or Essex County Council CIO David Wilde.

"The UK is not too late, but a quicker rollout would be better. I don't think a lack of 4G has compromised international competitiveness because core network provision remains the main driver and we have excellent provision at a corporate level in the UK," Wilde told Computing.

Wilde continued by stating that the benefits need to be considered "in the context of hybrid wired and wireless services that are converged. It's the mix which will be key in helping to improve ubiquitous high bandwidth geographical coverage, not one or the other," he said.

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