Will wired broadband no longer be needed in a 4G world?
The world of superfast broadband seems to be turning from famine to feast. Mobile and broadband offers are a-plenty and the days of struggling to find a signal or waiting hours for a download to complete finally look as if they are coming to an end. With this, a new battle is starting to gather pace, Superfast broadband or 4G.
On the one hand you have superfast broadband giving people download speeds like never before, making the internet at home a far more enjoyable experience and allowing many people greater freedom to take their work home. On the other hand you have 4G, a far superior service to 3G. Couple this with the advancement in cell phones and mobile devices, it’s now becoming a far more viable way of accessing the internet without a fixed line rental than it was even 12 months ago.
So faced with the option, the question is, which one will users end up opting for or is the ideal option a mixture of both? Well, a recent poll by Broadband Genie in the UK suggests that while a small percentage of users will just stay as they are, there is a 50-50 split between those users who wish to just have 4G and those who plan on taking advantage of both. Another USA based study that looked at broadband trends and usage patterns also shows the underlying growth engines behind the ever-increasing bandwidth demand.
Whilst this is all well and good in an ideal world, if there is one thing most of us have learned over the last two decades since the internet became widely available, the net is rarely ideal and there are usually complications on the way.
Like the UK, around 20% of the US population still have no access to 3G. Many people living in rural areas have probably given up on the idea and as such you can’t blame them if they are not getting overly excited at the prospect of 4G. The reality is, for those of us who don’t live in a major city, 4G may take a long time in coming and as such, if the opportunity for superfast broadband comes calling, many will likely grab it with both hands.
It’s also likely that if 4G is going to follow any time soon, Internet Service Providers (ISP) will have the foresight to give customers offers they can’t refuse, that will tie them in to contracts for as long as possible.
The obvious flip side to this is if you’re in an area where 4G becomes available before superfast broadband, you can’t be blamed for running out of patience and taking the first decent service that comes your way.
However, there is another important factor that must be considered and this is often the deciding factor. Money! It’s all well and good having the package you want, but many users have a budget. In the UK, 4G is currently considerably more expensive than superfast broadband, has restrictive download limits and requires an expensive outlay for a cell phone.
The picture for businesses, the bandwidth availability and options are usually wildly different. As an example, technologies such as broadband bonding has enabled business users to build their own IP connection by bonding together any type of ISP connections including wired, 3G and/or 4G for a very reasonable cost.
Over time it’s probable that costs will come down for consumers as well and availability will reach almost everyone for both wired and wireless services. However, when that time comes things will likely have moved on again and who knows what the options will be. Until that time it’s likely that people will decide based upon costs and availability and not just the service they prefer and businesses will continue to take advantage of best of both worlds by adding reliability and speed to their networks via broadband bonding 2 or more ISP links simultaneously.
Kerry Butters, writes on behalf of Broadband Genie