The roll out of the superfast 4G network in the UK is well under way, and the fourth generation of mobile technology is now available in more than 55 cities across the country, signalling the start of a new chapter for speedy mobile data services.
But what exactly is 4G? And more importantly, can the benefits of it aid public sectors and boost the economy?
What is 4G?
The 4G network follows on from its predecessor, 3G, which most people currently use today. Our mobile phones and tablets run on these networks and are the reason we can make calls, browse the internet, and upload and download data. 4G promises to deliver data speeds of at least 100Mbps, making it up to five times faster than 3G.
|1G (First generation)
||First batch of widely available handsets
|2G (Second generation)
||Switches over to a digital system with the introduction of text messages
|3G (Third generation)
||Developed for easy web browsing
|4G (Fourth generation)
||Evolution of existing 3G to cope with rate requirements of text messaging, video calling and mobile TV
Public sector benefits of 4G
Specifically built to handle mobile internet and data more efficiently, 4G makes for a more reliable and faster mobile connection in a world where, according to the 2011 Nielsen study, data usage is increasing 250% year on year.
Already making an impact in more than 30 countries across the globe, 4G has turned into the main catalyst as technology becomes an engine for economic growth.
As 4G rolls out across Britain, mobile technology aiding the public sector is likely to become more advanced. The superfast 4G speeds will not only help various departments become more efficient, but it is hoped that they could also eventually help reduce costs.
A 2012 study by network provider EE and business consulting firm Arthur D. Little investigates how public sector organisations in countries such as the US, Japan and Germany are already utilising 4G technology.
In America, the study revealed that 89% of central and local government departments can perform more work-related tasks on their smartphones, while on the move with 4G. Employees are able to browse web pages more quickly, as well as gain access to files on the go via the Cloud.
4G is expected to reach 98% of the UK population by 2017, meaning rural and ‘not-spot’ areas will also have access to the network.
This means public sector workers will be able to work on the move or from home, and as a result office space can be rationalised. In fact one London council has already established a remote working policy, which contributed to the freeing up of 27 properties saving the authority £55m.
Healthcare benefits of 4G
The EE and Arthur D. Little study also found that in Germany, a city hospital is trialling a 4G-enabled ambulance, with the aim to improve survival rates of stroke patients.
The high-speed data transfer of 4G was essential to this experiment given the high-resolution Computerised Tomography (CT) images uploaded by the ambulance to the hospital, allowing stroke patients to be examined en route helping to reduce the level of harm caused to them by 54%.
Although using mobile devices in the public and healthcare sectors is nothing new, 4G provides a fresh and innovative new take on the way in which they operate, something which is eventually hoped to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of these sectors dramatically.
EE is currently the only 4G network operator in the UK, but Vodafone and O2 are due to launch their services later this summer, meaning it’s time to embrace the superfast speeds of 4G and experience the benefits first hand.
This article was written by Stefanie Keeling of Phones4u – home of the latest mobile phone deals.