Fourth-generation fun and enhanced productivity
Innovation Profile: Vodafone Ireland:Watching real-time television on your smartphone or other mobile device, connecting to all your office-based files and applications while on the move, uploading video and other large files instantaneously – all this and much more besides will become possible in the coming years thanks to the advent of fourth-generation (4G) mobile services in this country.
However, the announcement that this potentially transformative new communications technology is on its way has received quite a muted response.
This was possibly because the statement from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources was couched in terms of the allocation of new spectrum frequencies to mobile operators by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) – hardly something to set the pulse racing.
Also, the almost €1 billion gain for the exchequer over time from the spectrum and associated licences tends to catch the eye during straitened times such as these.
This meant the benefits of the rollout of the next generation of mobile internet services were all but missed by many outside of the industry. These 4G services will offer internet download speeds of up to four times existing 3G services, with upload speeds improving by a factor of 10.
As Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte noted at the time: “We can now look forward to the rollout of much-needed faster, fourth-generation 4G mobile internet services, which will maintain and boost this country’s competitiveness.
“The availability of spectrum in the 800MHz band, for the first time will allow telecommunications operators to provide new high-speed broadband services that were not previously available. This particular band was made available following the successful switchover from analogue to digital TV [on October 24th].”
Rabbitte said he expected the telecoms companies which were the successful bidders to move quickly to build the infrastructure so that Ireland could start to benefit from 4G mobile broadband services in 2013. “This will be an important dimension of Ireland’s competitiveness in the coming years. It is a key component of the Government’s national broadband plan which envisages high-speed broadband services being rolled out across Ireland in the lifetime of this Government.”
Accelerated upload speed
The largest allocation of this valuable new and additional spectrum was secured by Vodafone Ireland. “4G data services will enable customers to upload content faster than with existing fixed broadband and experience download speeds over four times better than 3G,” says Vodafone Ireland’s strategy director, Paul Ryan. “Our spectrum allocation will ensure the fastest possible 4G rollout to deliver wider coverage and enhanced speeds to our customers.”
To date, Vodafone has invested €900 million in the network and will further invest more than half a billion over the next five years in network upgrades and the 4G rollout.
“In some ways it is like having fibre in the air,” Ryan adds. “The download and upload speeds 4G can produce are as good as anything you can get from the fixed-line network – up to 40 or 50 mbps. One of the most exciting aspects is the increased upload speeds. Until this you’d have to wait until you got home or back to the office to do this.”