TIME November 2012

The Business Benefits of 4G LTE

The Business Benefits of 4G LTE

The Business Benefits of 4G LTE

As Information and Communications Technology (ICT) continues to develop, the business world is applying it ever more broadly – and across increasingly diverse applications. Critical to this is the development of mobile communications technology.

The latest such technology, 4G LTE (‘Fourth Generation – Long Term Evolution’),provides substantial performance improvements over previous mobile technologies, and offers the promise that connectivity will no longer be a barrier to realising the benefits of enterprise mobility.

These improvements in application performance and enterprise mobility can bring a range of benefits:

  • Increased sales and improved customer service
  • Improvements in products and services
  • Productivity gains
    • Personal and team productivity
    • Management effectiveness and innovation
    • Process efficiency and effectiveness
  • Direct cost reductions
  • Improved employee motivation
  • Improved flexibility, agility and decisionmaking

These benefits are borne out by businesses in countries where 4G LTE is already available. In a survey, commissioned by EE, of organisations using LTE in the United States, 67% have seen increased productivity as a result. Furthermore, 47% have been able to cut costs, 39% say they have won more business and, when asked if 4G has helped their organisations ‘innovate and jump the competition’, more than three-quarters agree.

Compared with previous mobile network technologies, 4G LTE offers much higher bandwidth (speed of data transfer), lower latency (faster response times from the network) and improved spectrum efficiency (increasing overall network capacity). In practice, this allows:

  • More applications to be used on mobile devices, out of the home or office
  • Faster or real-time sharing of large files and streaming media
  • Near-immediate delivery of time-sensitive data, such as for real-time interaction or transactions

Compared with Wi-Fi, 4G LTE allows:

  • Fully-mobile use of applications that require true broadband speeds
  • Improved convenience (‘ownership’ of the mobile connection)
  • Security (no need authenticate onto another, possibly public, network)

LTE will deliver improvements in the performance of many existing applications, and make feasible new applications that depend on reliable highspeed or responsive data transfer. Examples include innovative telemedicine applications remote monitoring, fully-mobile virtual desktops and high-definition mobile videoconferencing. The improved user experience and practicality of LTE will also hasten uptake of those existing applications that already work on mobile devices – but just not very well. Finally, LTE’s high bandwidth can support the rapid set-up of temporary workplaces, as an alternative or backup to fixed broadband connections.

Drawing on interviews with senior executives, together with Arthur D. Little project experience from other countries, this paper sets out to describe some of the real-world benefits that businesses can expect from LTE and explores specific applications in five example verticals: Construction, Healthcare, Retail, Transport and Professional Services.

Based on these findings, the paper defines five general types of business applications or ‘usecases’ and explains how their performance can be substantially improved by 4G LTE:

  • Large file transfer
  • Rapid workplace set-up
  • Rich machine to machine and remote monitoring applications
  • Videoconferencing, tele-presence and rich media collaboration
  • Remote access to business applications

In the UK, there is clear public commitment from the operators to deploy 4G LTE widely, and EE has committed to launch services by late 2012.

Business customers are already anticipating the advantages of 4G. An EE-commissioned survey shows that 94% of IT decision-makers in the UK believe that 4G will be ‘an important business tool’. 84% say that they are ‘excited by the prospect of introducing 4G’ and over 60% hope to deploy 4G ‘within six months of its launch.’

UK organisations now need to consider how to exploit the benefits of 4G LTE. They must understand fully how the needs of their users – employees, contractors, suppliers and customers – are evolving, how 4G LTE can support them, and how both revenues and costs can be improved. This understanding should be developed into a full enterprise mobility strategy and business case, which defines how to reconfigure the organisation to capitalise on the promise of advanced mobility.

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