Published on August 26th, 2015 | by Jack Eagle2
4Gon discuss whether 4G has delivered, mobile connectivity issues and new opportunities with Comms Business Magazine
4Gon Solutions has been featured in the September 2015 issue of Comms Business Magazine.
Alexis Argent, Founder and Director of 4Gon Solutions, discusses the slow roll out of 4G, whether it has delivered all that it promised, mobile connectivity issues and more.
Are we still excited about it or has this slow roll out dampened our enthusiasm?
4G was heralded as the rebirth of mobile connectivity when operators first started talking about it years ago. It was going to be far superior to 3G and open doors that only superfast connectivity could open. Cloud technology, M2M and even the way we make calls were all going to change and create a new wave of commercial opportunities for resellers.
The slow roll out has had an impact on the sales of 4G devices, meaning the rise has not been as sharp as originally predicted. However with coverage increasing throughout the UK, we are seeing an improvement in the speeds that users can achieve. I think everyone is still excited, it’s just taken a bit longer than expected.
Has it delivered all that it promised?
Not entirely – yet. Currently something like 70% of UK properties are considered to have 4G coverage. This should rise to greater than 90% over the next couple of years. The user experience of 4G is quite variable which reflects the fact that the name “4G” is more a marketing term than a technical standard. Different mobile networks are providing 4G services with very different characteristics in terms of bandwidth and propagation range. This variability reflects the diverse frequency bands in use.
An additional factor is the existence of bottlenecks elsewhere in the networks (backhaul capacity etc) and in some locations contention ratios ie the sheer number of users on a given cell at certain point in time. Also rural coverage remains inconsistent. That said there is no question that the advent of 4G has improved the mobile internet experience for many users with Ofcom tests suggesting download speeds approximately three times those of 3G services on average. It is also clear that all the major mobile network providers are committed to further enhancing service provision and indeed there is currently much Industry activity around defining an agreed “Quality of Experience” metric which could be an important lever for ongoing improvement.
Are our mobile connectivity woes a thing of the past?
No – fast, reliable connectivity – mobile or otherwise – remains a key challenge in many areas. Obvious examples of the need include mobile service provision in eg Government, Health, Banking, Transport and Leisure and for remote and temporary sites (Construction, Entertainment and Broadcasting). Perhaps more surprising is the demand for 4G grade services for reasons of business continuity (eg office moves where lead times for fixed lines are long), disaster recovery or as an alternative to slow DSL services in rural and other under provided locations.
Fortunately there are now technologies available to address the limitations of traditional consumer focussed 3G & 4G services and enhance these to provide business class performance. An example is the “i-MO OptiBond” router product range distributed by 4Gon. These devices allow the user to bond or aggregate mobile connections in order to substantially boost both available bandwidth and resilience. Models such as the i-MO 310 can accept up to six SIMS from diverse networks in order to best ensure consistent, effective connectivity. This particular appliance also provides up to four WAN interfaces thereby enabling fixed line bonding or indeed various failover options eg DSL to 4G, 4G to satellite etc.
4G coverage is improving, however there are still many locations in the UK where 4G connectivity cannot be achieved. In these areas devices fall back to 3G or even 2G. EE are the mobile network really leading the push for 4G connectivity and their 4G network now covers more than 5000 UK towns or cities, and they plan to have 98% of the UK covered by the end of 2015. They are also looking to roll out 4G+ in central London and expand it to other areas. This service has been announced to offer speeds of up to 150Mbps.
Has the Channel embraced this ‘new’ opportunity and has it enabled them to sell a whole new suite of solutions into their customer base?
4G Routers have a number of different applications. they are ideal to provide backup to a broadband connection in case of broadband failure. This was true in the case of the recent fire in Holborn, London. I-Mo were able to supply a 4G device to assist to a company that had been impacted by the disaster, limiting downtime and preventing serious damage to the business itself.
4G routers can also be used in smaller scale deployments, for example enabling employees to work from a remote location that does not have a broadband connection, with devices like the Teltonika RUT550. CradlePoint are having success with deployments in retail. The solutions can both help the business run their processes for day-to-day operations and also offer internet to users. They are also proving to be highly effective in the hospitality and temporary outdoor events industry because using a 4G system is much cheaper to install than the fixed line or WiFi alternatives. 4G can also be used by resellers to provide security systems to a site, connecting IP video surveillance systems to a cellular network.
The Channel is beginning to recognise the role that enhanced business class 4G solutions from manufacturers such as i-MO, Teltonika and CradlePoint can provide. As a leading Distributor of wireless products 4Gon is seeing much interest from Resellers & ISPs in technologies which quickly and effectively solve diverse client connectivity woes and thereby ease the sale of cloud based services of all types from core business applications to Unified Communications.
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