Why LTE is not just a sprint

Last updated: 20 March 2014

With all the buzz around 4G and LTE coming to a town near you (if you live or work in the US or UK), and prior successes emanating from Norway, Japan and South Korea, we should be excited about the opportunities being made available to us with these infrastructure upgrades.

However, recent research shows that data download speeds can vary greatly between different countries – it’s not a case of ‘one LTE fits all’. James Middleton of Telecoms.com reports Sweden has the fastest LTE experience at 11.1Mbps on average, while Japan is in ‘the slow lane’ with 7.1Mbps download. It’s interesting to note that Sweden was the first to roll out a commercial LTE network, yet has ensured the fastest experience.

Skepticism still abounds as to whether LTE, 4G or WiMAX are really necessary, but more and more smartphones are making inroads into our everyday lives. Consider too claims that more data will be generated and transmitted via our networks – Cisco predicted that at least two thirds of mobile traffic will be video by 2017 for instance – and it’s clear a solution will need to be found.

I would argue, however, that speed isn’t the most important aspect of LTE and 4G technology. While it is significant, in order to allow a country to become competitive and to ensure progress, there are other vital criteria to consider. For instance: security, to ensure safe access to mobile LTE networks; or integration with existing legacy applications and business; or for operators to enable mobile services.

There have been many challenges in rolling out LTE or 4G networks and we are now getting closer to being able to implement commercial networks, thanks to operators around the world taking the plunge. Over 60 countries have now launched a commercial LTE network, overcoming initial concerns and challenges, and while data download speeds vary across each country, it’s important that these other criteria are not ignored either.

To hear about our work with major operators in Japan, the US and now also in the UK, visit our stand (Hall 5 Stand 5G120 #GemaltoMWC) at Mobile World Congress. We’ll be offering demos on a range of innovative technology to offer an ever improved consumer experience.