Operator says 4G will revolutionise mobile technology
The advent of 4G will revolutionise the way companies in Northern Ireland use mobile communications, according to the operator which won the race to bring the technology to these shores.
Martin Stiven, vice president of Business-to-Business at EE, said rural businesses along with small and medium sized enterprises will benefit most from the superfast connections which 4G offers, particularly those with employees geographically separated or those using large files.
"We are giving SMEs the tools to be more flexible, to stay close to their customers and to do the things that will make them money," he said in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph. "If you witness 4G it will blow your mind."
The technology in 4G is claimed to offer internet browsing speeds on mobile devices which are five times faster and, at an average of 40 megabytes, will be faster than many broadband systems. It's also expected to reach more rural areas than 3G.
Mr Stiven was speaking following this month's announcement that Belfast will be one of 16 cities where EE, formerly Everything Everywhere and the owner of Orange and T-Mobile, will roll out 4G technology "before Christmas".
It's already being trialled in London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham and the company plans to roll the service out to 70% of the UK population by the end of 2013 and 98% by the end of 2014. This involves upgrading telephone masts to enable them to use the same frequency as currently used by terrestrial television.
EE's decision to invest in 4G gives it a headstart on other mobile companies who are likely to take at least six months to implement similar technology, according to Mr Stiven.
"We've earmarked £1.2bn for network infrastructure and taken the strategic decisions to get on the front foot," he said. "The others will have to wait until the next auction - at least six months."
The government holds spectrum auctions periodically to allow companies to buy the rights to transmit signals over specific bands.
But because it doesn't want to show its hand too soon, EE won't reveal how much 4G will cost.