4G: Here It Comes, Ready or Not -- Part III | Page 2

Much will hinge on how quickly Xohm can press its first-strike advantage -- how fast it can roll out across the U.S. -- because the benefits he claims all apply to LTE as well.

Zeus Kerravala argues that 4G will encourage mobile employees to use bandwidth-intensive applications they likely would not use today when away from the office, including video conferencing.

"I think basic video conferencing will be possible, though not high-end immersive stuff," Kerravala says. "And a lot of collaborative applications -- Web conferencing using VoIP -- could be run over 4G networks too."

The question may be more whether business users see a need to for this kind of communication while mobile. But video now appears to be moving into the enterprise mainstream, and there is a strong push in many organization to extend desktop applications to mobile users.

The higher data speeds will likely enable, or enhance, more consumer applications than enterprise -- chief among them video for entertainment. Mobile video is already a hot trend. With 4G, it will likely move to warp speed.

Implications for enterprises? It could mean new or increased business opportunities for those that own media properties. Also, employees are consumers too. Kerravala points out that 4G will make it easier to quickly provision new offices with connectivity. Rather than waiting for notoriously slow-moving wireline providers to make connections, companies can open a new location using 4G for everything in the early going. The data capacity also makes wireless more viable as a backup network.

Many of the more far-reaching implications flow from direct benefits to carriers. 4G technologies will be spectrally more efficient than 3G. And they will use a flat IP architecture which means carriers can build networks in part using standard IP routers and switches rather than expensive devices designed for proprietary networks.

Bottom line: they will be able to deliver high-speed connectivity to more users, less expensively.

That lower cost structure will allow them to "push deeper into the market" with high-speed data services because they can now afford to charge less for a given speed of connection, says David Robinson, vice president of new business planning at Canadian carrier Rogers Wireless.

So the big impact of 4G may be its sheer ubiquity and the ease of access it brings -- not on day one, to be sure, but eventually.

Broadband wireless consultant Dawood Khan, a partner at Kazam Technologies Inc. says unified communications -- instant messaging, presence, voice, e-mail, find-me-follow-me, etc. -- will now be seamlessly extended into the mobile realm.

Users will no longer have to think about how to connect. Convergence of fixed and mobile networks - another inevitable consequence of 4G - will mean devices will automatically determine best mode of communication and best network.

"I think the opportunities will be huge for enterprises in terms of productivity for their employees -- the ability to collaborate and be effective in that collaboration," Khan says.

Others believe ubiquity of high-speed connectivity in the wide area will mean more devices, and more different types of devices, get connected.

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