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A need for speed and power

The telecoms network worldwide has developed a great deal over the last few decades, but it still lacks the power to meet our business and consumer needs. There’s a good chance that may change soon, though.

Back home in the UK, copper wire was used to connect telephones. The internet, when it grew in popularity in the 1990s, later used this same legacy network to establish its own connectivity.

But frontier markets like Cambodia, India and all of Africa, which lacked legacy networks, have seen a leapfrogging in technological development. While the West has largely seen technology evolve step by step, these countries – and much of a continent – have skipped entire evolutionary cycles. As a result, we can say that frontier markets are at the leading edge of the deployment of the latest networking technologies.

Nowadays, the mobile network has gone digital from analogue, and third-generation wireless technology has allowed us to retrieve heavy amounts of data on the go.

Interestingly enough, 3G was never meant to handle the bandwidth needs of video and music downloads, or the proliferation of applications. Therefore the advent of smartphones and tablet devices has put a strain on the networks.

Consumers are hungry for faster speeds and a truly untethered connection, whether for business or personal needs. That means the networks have to evolve to the next stage of the connectivity evolution: 4G. The current 3G technologies – 3G, 3.5G and 3.75G – do not provide the type of network technologies we need to fully enjoy the digital world that we live in and engage every day. Not with content uploads being as popular as downloads, and our work/social lives starting to mesh and play out online.  

One point in particular that stands out is the difference between those download and upload speeds, especially on 3G networks. Often times the former is faster than the latter, meaning a web page may render quickly while our attempt to add pictures to Facebook does not.

The solution for this is a 4G wireless network, specifically a WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) network, as the connection on a WiMax network is symmetric.

If we get 2 megabytes coming down on WiMax, then we will get 2MB going up. It is the most superior 4G technology out there currently, and it gives us the much-needed functionality that 3G cannot provide.

In addition to WiMax, which is mainly deployed by Internet service providers, there is also Long Term Evolution 4G technology. This is the 4G deployed by mobile operators, though WiMax offers a mobile 16e technology as well.

Regardless of the delivery method, we must have 4G-based networks to enjoy the full revolution of the wireless environments and all its potential. Operators who develop 4G networks – and some in Cambodia have started – will be best positioned to benefit from increased revenues and a growing subscriber base that will adopt the technology en masse.

Their success will come from providing the network that we need now, more bandwidth and extreme speed for both the consumer and business users on the go.

Jazz Gill is a technology,telecoms and private equity consultant. You can contact him at jazz.gill@phnompenhpost.com.

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