Contrary to those saying wireless will be complementary to fixed-line services, 4G LTE will allow wireless broadband to take primary market position, according to Vividwireless CEO, Martin Mercer.
The ISP was the first to rollout out a 4G network in Australia starting with Perth. However, what exactly constitutes 4G is still a contentious topic.
The popularity of wireless has been used as a weak point for the Federal Government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) plans. Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is a staunch proponent of a wireless-centric NBN rather than a predominantly fibre one.
But it is important to note fixed-line technology would still be needed for wireless network backhaul.
Telstra and NBN Co have both said wireless technology will be complementary to fixed-line services.
At the CommsDay Summit 2011, Mercer disputed this point.
“When you see the power of 4G you realise it is going to become a primary service for people rather than a complementary service,” Mercer said.
There are now approximately 4.2 million wireless broadband services and 4.4 million fixed broadband services in use, which means the two are almost on par with each other, he said.
One of the limitations with wireless is its nature as a shared medium. This means theoretical speeds on the network are shared between a number of users while fixed-line can more or less deliver a consistent service.
Mercer acknowledged this limitation but said field tests on Vividwireless’ 4G network showed a consistent high-speed service is possible.
“We were achieving 30-40Mbps in the field so customers can get a service that is just as fast if not faster than what they can get now on a fixed network,” he said. “This is even faster than the entry-level NBN service.
“When you got wireless service that works just as well as your fixed service that works pretty much everywhere, suddenly you got an incentive to switch off that expensive fixed service and go to a wireless one.”
While 4G is not robust enough to support large scale data functions such as IPTV to high-definition (HD) TVs in the home it can provide a good quality service to portable devices such as iPads and notebooks on the go, Mercer said.
In a Cisco’s recent Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update 2010-2015, it claimed mobile data traffic nearly tripled in 2010 much higher than anticipated. This is set to increase 26-fold by 2015 thanks to the popularity of new portable devices.
Mercer said while ensuring extensive wireless network coverage is important, accommodating this kind of traffic in a cost effective manner is paramount for network operators to consider.
4G is a good technology for this due to its spectral efficiency, he said.
The CommsDay Summit 2011 concludes Wednesday.