The delay in implementing 4G mobile services in the UK is a “blessing in disguise” because more time is needed to upgrade Britain’s unprepared network infrastructure.
While acknowledging that the delay is extremely frustrating for consumers and businesses, 4G services would completely swamp the UK’s outdated networks, and that a faster introduction of 4G would repeat the mistakes of 3G’s implementation in this country.
With 4G rollout scheduled for 2015, the UK is lagging far behind our economic rivals. Three years is a long time to wait for high speed mobile Internet, especially when countries like the US and Germany will enjoy the benefits of 4G this year.
But although it is estimated to cost the UK economy £1.5bn in total, this delay is actually a blessing in disguise. Much of our creaking network infrastructure is already having difficulty coping with the number of Internet-connected devices and the inexorable rise of bandwidth-intensive traffic, such as video and unified communications.
It’s important to remember that the UK has never been a true 3G nation, with universal coverage and availability. The move to 4G will be an even bigger step up for all concerned, yet telcos are having a hard enough time responding to the increasing strain on their networks.
When 4G finally brings fixed-line speeds to the millions of mobile devices in the UK it will increase bandwidth by a factor of four; datacentres will see an eightfold increase in data; while storage requirements will be 16 times greater.
What happens in datacentres and networks over the next three years will determine whether 4G is a success in this country. Thanks to regulatory delays, we now have a period of grace.
Everyone connected with mobile data delivery – including datacentre operators, telcos and enterprises – need to be working out their 4G strategy right now, as well as planning the necessary infrastructure upgrades. If they do so, we can all look forward to robust and reliable high-speed mobile Internet, albeit in 2015. If they do not, the UK will be the sick man of European communications, with disastrous results for our economy and competitiveness in the world.