After a lengthy wait the UK's first commercial LTE network has been switched on by the country's largest operator, EE. The arrival of this network is a massive step forward for a country that has long been heralded as a leader in the mobile space. However, it is of upmost importance that in order for the full benefits to take effect, a competitive and world class 4G marketplace is established as quickly as possible.
Recent research points to a direct link between economic growth and a best in class national broadband offering, with some figures indicating that for every 10 per cent of broadband penetration, a nation's GDP rises by one per cent[i]. This is backed up by research carried out by online retailer eBay, which suggested the lack of a universal 4G service was likely to cost the UK economy £120 million in lost sales this coming Christmas. Therefore, the speed at which multiple 4G/LTE offerings come to the UK will be paramount to ensuring the UK can continue to compete economically.
According to the GSMA, the UK currently has 90 per cent mobile subscriber penetration. This makes it critical for other operators who plan to roll out 4G services early next year, to ensure they have an effective mobile backhaul traffic management system in place to let them roll out this service as quickly as possible. This technology will eliminate bandwidth restrictions and reduce the potential for data bottlenecks, enabling operators to quickly scale the backhaul from the sub-100Mb/s speeds associated with 3G networks to the 1Gb/s speeds associated with LTE technology.
LTE networks have been designed as a 'packet technology' that supports high bandwidth traffic, and therefore requires a robust and reliable Ethernet-based backhaul network. This can be deployed quickly, with guaranteed performance and service assurance, to enable the fast refurbishment of existing mobile base stations to provide top class 4G services to UK customers. Not only will the rollout of services in this manner create lightning fast speeds for end users, but it also allows operators to effectively and proactively monitor, maintain and troubleshoot the underlying network that enables LTE, thus ensuring high standards of service.
With assurances such as these in place, and with the guarantee of no further delays on the path to 'full 4G status', the UK economy will undoubtedly begin to feel the benefits. Not only, as eBay points out, will areas such as the retail sector benefit from an increase in spending, but the ability 4G gives to all professions to become truly 'mobile workers' should be widely felt as productivity levels rise.
Mervyn Kelly, EMEA marketing director, Ciena