Don’t forget about the current state of 3G networks

With industry regulator Ofcom announcing that the UK could benefit from 4G networks by 2014, Owen Cole, Technical Director of F5 Networks commented, “As the use of information on the move evolves and more users have access to smartphones and tablets it is crucial that mobile operators (MNOs) can cope with the network demand this creates. In a recent report, Morgan Stanley stated that iPhone users only spend 45% of their time making calls and 55% browsing the internet, shopping and playing games, demonstrating this shift to data use.

“This freedom of data is tremendously useful and a far cry away from the phones of the yesteryear, however, in the UK we are getting to the stage where our mobile networks are lagging behind Africa. The problem we are facing is that as mobile working evolves and organisations hand out dongles and data tariffs to support email on the go we are essentially putting data into a large funnel, which only has a small spout to drip out information.

“A typical 3G network will give us about 7mb/s of data, where as new infrastructures in Africa have in excess of 10mb/s. If MNOs want to be serious about the move to next-generation networks to ensure they can retain customers, they need to make massive investments and drastically improve technology and network capacity to increase service outputs. In reality they are still paying for 3G investments, but need to provide the next level of capacity for data, making this challenge even more complex and costly.

“Upgrading systems is never as easy as implementing brand new ones, with brands such as Apple releasing the next generation iPhone and offering users even more data rich gizmos and gadgets. It is hard for the MNOs to keep up, stay online and turn a profit.

“The next few years will be crucial for next generation networks, as devices and customer numbers grow and MNOs need to decide whether they will take the lead or be led by handset manufacturers.”