Severn Trent's CIO, Myron Hrycyk, has told Computing that he is worried that UK 3G infrastructure may be holding back his enterprise mobility plans for the national water supplier.
When asked whether he was considering upping mobile device provision - which currently allows operatives in the field to map, schedule and feed back live video from projects - from 3G to 4G, Hrycyk replied that "coverage on 3G" was still so patchy as to be "worrying".
"The biggest problem I think companies like ours face with 3G is coverage," said Hrycyk.
"If you rest your business in terms of relying on technology so people can work remotely, you need coverage. And it's a fact of life that sometimes in very sparsely populated areas, there isn't the investment by the infrastructure providers to put a mast up there, and so coverage is a challenge.
"So I'm not necessarily immediately worrying about 4G - I'm more worrying about whether we can continue to deliver the functionality we want with 3G coverage."
Severn Trent uses O2 and T-Mobile for its 3G provision, but Hrycyk pointed out he is not specifically criticising these providers, but rather is concerned about the general UK infrastructure.
"I think all 3G providers have got gaps in their coverage," he told Computing.
"We don't find that one's significantly better than the others - you might find you get better coverage with one over here, not over there, and vice versa.
"So I think that's a challenge, but I think it would be absolutely fantastic if we could achieve full coverage on 3G."
Hyrcyk said the UK needs to "get over the practicalities of ubiquitous coverage" in order to meet his "vision" for 4G, which includes the day-to-day use of "realtime video and that kind of thing".
"And so the 4G bandwidth will be something we will be looking at as part of our five year plan," he explained.
"The demand for 4G bandwidth with streaming video, and far more rich data being passed across a network, I think, is inevitable," added Hrycyk.
"Therefore, 4G will be something we need to embrace. But you have to be realistic - we've got to have good coverage first and 3G at the moment is providing functionality for us, it just needs better coverage."
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