4G has been around for some time now. We’re beginning to see mobile providers offering packages specifically targeted at replacing traditional fixed line connections, but is it really a viable option for business connectivity and what are the drawbacks of it?
Coverage is continually improving around the UK and dependant on the network up to 97% of the population is now able to access 4G connectivity, however this equates to around 75% of the UK landmass so green field sites may still have little or no signal.
When 4G was first discussed we were advised we would be able to use speeds of 300Mbps download. In reality even with full signal you’ll rarely see more than 60 Mbps and this is not guaranteed. The bandwidth you’ll get depends entirely on your distance from the nearest mast and on the level of environmental interference.
It is also worth noting 4G bandwidth is not a synchronous. This means the upload speed will be much lower than the download speed. Certainly a consideration if your business regularly sends image or video files of any significant size.
Have you ever been to a stadium, had full 4G signal but still had a painfully slow internet experience? This is because 60,000 people are trying to use a fixed amount of capacity. 4G network providers do not publish their “contention ratios” or their capacity, so you’ll have no guarantees as to what will happen when the network gets busy.
If your business needs to do anything more technical than basic email and web browsing a fixed public IP address is usually required. The majority of 4G providers this is simply not an option, and they will issue your connection a dynamic IP address that changes all the time.
No good if you’re looking to remote desktop to the office from home or check your IP CCTV cameras for example.
To use 4G on your office network you’ll need a device that converts 4G in to a Wi-Fi or wired connection. Unlike your normal CPE I would highly recommend this device is placed near a window to increase the signal and 4G speeds.
Don’t let these possible pitfalls put you off 4G connectivity, it will solve multiple connectivity issues businesses regularly have to overcome. It’s not geographically fixed and can be moved between locations great for any pop up stores or temporary sites saving on cancellation fees and installation fees.
4G can also be deployed within days without having to wait for any physical infrastructure to be installed. The average Broadband UK connection takes over a week to install. What’s more, it is a great back up option to broadband connections as it will not be affected by any exchange or copper outages in your area giving you additional cost effective resiliency.
4G connectivity for business – it’s certainly a possibility.
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