The next generation of mobile broadband offers us unrestricted internet, optimised infrastructure, ubiquitous access and increased opportunity.
This means anytime, anywhere access to high-bandwidth applications, content and communication - excellent for faster e-mails, larger files, and faster web access for that secure daily transaction that often hits network congestion.
The technology behind the next generation mobile broadband is LTE, which stands for "Long Term Evolution". It represents the next generation of mobile internet beyond today's High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) networks. LTE is a global standard which is the natural development route for most mobile operators.
But LTE actually means much more than that. The possibilities are enormous. With improved latency, Juniper Research expects video to be at the heart of LTE applications and services - whether personal video conferencing, video calling or new and as yet undeveloped, video apps.
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Developers do not yet have an appreciation of the potential of LTE. We ran a survey of key decision makers and found that many could not name the new services over and above today's apps. However new applications will certainly come. Let's not forget that the iPhone was launched only three years ago.
According to our forecasts at Juniper Research, some 300 million users globally will benefit from LTE services by 2015 - around one in five in developed nations such as the UK. In our research, we found that business users will be the prime target market, certainly in the early years of LTE.
We believe that businesses will be prepared to pay a premium for guaranteed high speed connections - almost a "mobile leased line". As LTE is an all-IP network, operators will have the ability to control network resources and quality of service of subscriber services.
Video special on fourth generation mobile
Whilst this opens all kinds of possibilities for new data plans, personalising experiences and optimising the network, it could add to the whole net neutrality debate by virtue of assigning priority to some users over others.
Overall though the good news is that if you've ever been frustrated by a slow or even non-existent web experience whilst using your laptop or smartphone in a city centre, then help is on its way.
But when's this high speed mobile experience going to be available? Well, the bad news is that the UK and indeed most of the EU will not be rolling in volume before 2012.
Issues of spectrum availability are behind this, whilst operators also face decisions about how much to sweat their existing assets before investing in the new packet core.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of trials - including O2's LTE trial in Slough.
The bottom line though is, at the moment, the arrival date of LTE in the UK is still "to be confirmed" - which probably means maybe 2012 at the earliest.
What LTE technology offers
- Significantly increased peak data rates, up to 100Mbps with 20MHz bandwidth in the downlink and uplink peak data rates up to 50Mbps;
- Faster cell edge performance;
- Reduced latency (to 10ms) for better user experience;
- Scalable bandwidth up to 20MHz;
- Works with existing mobile technologies (GSM/EDGE/UMTS) and uses existing 2G and 3G spectrum and new spectrum;
- Mobility up to 350kph
Howard Wilcox is senior analyst, Juniper Research
Juniper Research specialises in identifying and appraising new high growth market sectors within the mobile ecosystem. The cornerstones of Juniper's research are market sizing and forecasting, together with competitive analysis, strategic assessment and business modelling. Juniper provides independent and impartial analysis of current and emerging opportunities through a team of dedicated specialists.