Lack of Mobile Connectivity Restricts UK Economic Growth
Information is the currency of the digital age, but it needs connectivity in order to flow smoothly and fuel economic growth. The upshot is that some experts believe the UK is suffering due to a lack of next-generation mobile networking, caused largely by the inadequacies of the existing 3G infrastructure.
The latest critic of the UK’s mobile connectivity is Deloitte CIO Matt Peers, who spoke in an interview with Computer Weekly about the issues facing companies in the UK who want to harness mobile broadband in order to allow employees a greater degree of flexibility in relation to where they can work and what they can achieve.
Mr Peers pointed out that data speeds were not necessarily an issue, with 3G offering solid connections that enable most functions, such as web browsing, e-mail and even cloud-based app operation, to run relatively smoothly.
His real contention is with the current levels of 3G coverage and, moreover, the strength of the actual 3G signals. He said that one or two bars of 3G connectivity were simply not adequate to make it worthwhile for businesses to invest in mobile broadband technology, with this state of affairs causing harm to the wider economy.
Mr Peers said that many businesses would argue that ubiquitous 3G connectivity of a decent standard is more important to them than the promise of next generation 4G services being rolled out before the end of 2012.
What About 4G
This is certainly a reasonable position to hold, since even when 4G is introduced by the likes of Everything Everywhere, the actual coverage levels offered will surely be restricted to major urban centres like London, leaving the majority of businesses across the rest of the country with no way to benefit from this advancement.
The real economic problems being caused by inadequate high-speed mobile connectivity are due largely to downtime, according to Mr Peers. He said that weak signals and sporadic coverage meant that mobile workers were having to waste valuable time on attempting to connect to the internet and get on with typical tasks.
Part of the reason that mobile connectivity is becoming such an important facet of the business world is that it allows for greater levels of data security. In the past, staff would need to take a laptop away with them, on which could be stored reams of sensitive business information. This is fine, provided that the devices are not then lost, which is of course an unfortunately regular occurrence caused by human error.
Mr Peers is one of the many experts who believe that it is necessary to make mobile working much safer by storing precious data remotely and allowing mobile workers to access it over a secured connection rather than storing it directly on individual devices, which are also vulnerable to theft.
Of course, until businesses can guarantee that employees will be able to get a decent mobile connection in any location, migrating entirely to this more secure set-up is not really practical. The result is a reluctance to use more mobile devices due to security concerns, which in turn has an impact on the prosperity of the nation as a whole.
Industry insiders and business leaders alike simply want to plug the connectivity gaps. It seems that, according to Mr Peers at least, this can be done just as capably with 3G as with anything else. The result is that network providers that are being pushed for the launch of 4G in the UK may have to revise their plans and instead concentrate on enhancing the ubiquity of existing mobile connectivity to keep business customers happy
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