With so many advancements in mobile phone technology, it’s easy to dismiss most as insignificant. A mega-megapixel camera, a brighter screen and better apps are all good, but they’re hardly going to redefine your world.
But with 4G you can expect significant life changes. A new generation of the cellular network — already rolled out in many parts of Asia and South Asia — 4G promises to supercharge mobile internet connections across the region in the coming year.
Here are some ways that 4G will change our lives.
Watching, not waiting
Whereas 3G networks offered slow video downloads or buffering-plagued live streams, 4G’s high data speeds should mean feature-length movies accessed in a matter of minutes, or seamless live TV. High definition video phone calls are possible too.
The implications of mobile TV growth are huge. As more people use their handsets as their primary viewing platform, movie makers and TV producers may find themselves faced with the need to create shows that look good on smaller screens as advertisers move to mobile.
Consumers, however, would be advised to change their viewing habits with caution. Video downloads are, and will continue to be, a major drain on data allowances. Keeping up with the Kardashians could cost you fortune.
Work, work, work
When the first BlackBerry handsets were unleashed on unsuspecting employees in the Western world over the last decade they revolutionized the way people do office work.
Suddenly, they were dealing with company emails on the train, on the bus and in the bath. Thumbs suffered as people pounded out their replies on tiny QWERTY keypads. Work-life balances suffered as the lines between professional and personal time became blurred. Some relationships suffered as BlackBerrys were inevitably brought into marital beds.
Bangladesh caught up late with the Blackberry phenomenon but now these days most of us have adapted to carrying around a portal to the office in our pockets. We might check them obsessively, but we’re no longer feverishly addicted to responding in real time.
The arrival of 4G could shake things up again. With a mobile network that offers broadband speeds and capacity, it in theory becomes possible to carry out all manner of online activity on the hoof.
Secure connections through which employees can access data-heavy company software become possible. As does downloading or uploading huge data files and video conferencing.
This will make life easier for workers whose job already takes them on the road. It will also unshackle many more from their desks.
But it could also lead to a tricky transition period as millions of us adapt to a new world in which almost every aspect of office life can be lugged around in our laptops.
Play, play, play
Even as 4G keeps us connected more closely to our work, it will also plug us into our play.
Whether you enjoy listening to music or engaging in multi-player computer combat, 4G should make that a seamless mobile experience via delay-free access to cloud storage or gaming servers.
2G or not 2G
Whether we like it or not, 4G is the future of mobile telecommunications (at least until 5G comes along). Some people may insist that their old 2G or 3G handsets are all that they’ll ever need, but sadly they must soon bow to the inevitable.
4G phone operators have been able to increase network speeds by accessing a broader spectrum of transmission frequencies. These are expensive, with operators often entering highly competitive government auctions to secure a slice of radio bandwidth.
As demand for 4G grows, networks will be looking to dedicate more frequencies to their coverage. This will eventually mean re-assigning the frequencies that currently support 2G and 3G devices.