This week the result of the Government’s 4G auction was released, meaning faster mobile internet is a step closer. But what is it? And how will it change the way you work? Technology expert Dean Evans explains
Thinking about buying a new smartphone or tablet to replace your laptop? You might want to wait a bit longer.
You’ve probably seen Kevin Bacon talking about ‘superfast 4G’ in those ubiquitous 30-second TV adverts for Everything Everywhere (EE). And with the result of the Government’s 4G auction released this week, more alternatives will follow later this year (and saves us those adverts too).
You might already know that 4G is the next generation of mobile broadband, promising internet speeds several times zippier than current 3G services. But you might not know why your next gadget needs it.
Simply put, 4G is the future of mobile connectivity. EE’s pioneering 4G service uses all-new digital technology called Long Term Evolution (LTE), which squeezes more data into the radio bandwidth delivering faster connection speeds and greater reliability.
It’s a significant mobile upgrade, arguably as big as the tech-jump we made from clunky 2G GPRS/EDGE to modern 3G services. Today, EE’s 4G network offers a five-fold speed boost. Ultimately, 4G technology could be over 20 times faster than 3G.
This dramatic speed increase will give you true mobile broadband, anytime and anywhere. So with a 4G device, you’ll be able to:
- work anytime and anywhere, browsing websites as fast as you would on a computer in your office
- connect to cloud-based accounting software, like Xero or QuickBooks Online, with no lag
- send or receive large documents in a matter of seconds
- video conference like never before: video streaming is what the technology was made for.
What does this mean for accountants? With 4G and clever document sharing applications like Dropbox, your productivity will never take a hit and your ability to work isn’t compromised by poor connectivity.
Mobile working can cut costs for big firms, reduce travel and lead to faster response times for clients. Crucially, in rural areas where fixed-line broadband speeds are still sluggish, 4G could become a viable alternative.
We’re living in a digital age where clients already enjoy the convenience of banking, chatting and shopping online. They will expect other services to be just as flexible. Why can’t they email their accountant after hours (and get a response)? Why can’t they sign documents digitally rather than hunting down a fax machine? You could argue that accountancy is long overdue an internet upgrade.
It’s why the next device you buy needs to be future proof. It needs to be 4G/LTE-capable. Right now, your options are limited to EE and a selection of phones that include the new Blackberry Z10, the powerful Samsung Galaxy S3, the Windows Phone 8-powered Nokia Lumia 920 and the Apple iPhone 5.
But O2, Three and Vodafone are launching LTE services of their own later this year, so it’s worth waiting until everyone has launched into the marketplace so you can get the best deal and the best 4G device.
Dean Evans is a technology writer and former editor of TechRadar.com.
Dean Evans is Editorial Director at That Media Thing Ltd.