If you don't live in one of the cities where you can get a signal, news that 4G mobile is now available in the UK may not have made much of an impact on you. And even if you do live in an area that's covered, you could have been forgiven for losing interest once you saw how network Everything Everywhere (EE) has chosen to price its tariffs.
Significant 4G benefits
EE has now released research into the business benefits of 4G. And they show a considerable upside to the technology, even when you allow for the fact that a 4G provider is never going to play down the possibilities of its service.
The survey examined how 4G is used by small and medium-sized businesses in countries where it's been available for a while. Some of the key findings were:
- 74% of firms using 4G in the US say it's helped them innovate and jump ahead of the competition. It seems particularly useful for companies with workers in the field. For instance, construction workers can use 4G to quickly send large amounts of information back to head office.
- Eight out of ten US firms with 4G say it helps them get more done on the move, and nearly half reckon it's actually saved them money by enabling flexible working so they can reduce office space.
- Small firms in the UK have high expectations of 4G. 59% expect it will help them increase productivity and 38% think it will improve staff well-being and motivation.
Interestingly, 4G also lies at the heart of some interesting innovations. The survey cites a CCTV company that's been able to use 4G to transmit footage instead of having to dig up streets to install cables. And a German car manufacturer is soon to launch a car with a 4G hotspot built in - so you can get connected as you travel.
Too early to switch
There is certainly demand out there for faster mobile connections. But for most companies, there's no compelling reason to switch yet. What's more, EE is the only network currently offering 4G at present. Once other providers enter the market next year there's an excellent chance the competition will force prices down.
For those two reasons, the wisest move for most companies is to wait and see how 4G pans out. Besides, the BBC found considerable variation in connection speeds - so there's no guarantee you'll see the full benefits yet.