LIVE FROM THE FUTURE OF WIRELESS CONFERENCE, CAMBRIDGE: Olaf Swantee, CEO of UK mobile market-leader Everything Everywhere, this morning underscored his commitment to launching the country’s first 4G network by year-end, warning that the UK’s digital infrastructure is already falling behind many other developed nations.
“The UK has been an early adopter of smartphones and apps – and yet its digital infrastructure is no longer a benchmark,” he said. “Even the US is now ahead of us in terms of infrastructure and that wasn’t the case just a few years ago.”
He blamed a “profitability gap” between the UK and other comparable markets, and delays around spectrum allocation and liberalisation as the key reasons for the UK falling behind. “The framework [for 4G] has not been ready,” he added.
The availability of 4G will help Everything Everywhere relieve strain on its data networks, where traffic is growing by 250 percent a year. “The growth in data is staggering on my network, and this will continue for years to come,” said Swantee.
He noted that lab testing of Everything Everywhere’s 4G network had identified a 5x/6x performance improvement over 3G and a “significant” improvement in latency. This will allow the operator to target 4G services at the estimated 2–3million households in rural areas such as Cornwall that “do not have an acceptable fixed broadband connection,” Swantee said.
“4G carries the strength of the signal right up to edge of cell, so even if you are 3 to 4 miles away from the from mast, you’ll still get 6Mb/s throughput ,” he added.
He said that the faster speeds will enable the operator to offer new services in areas such as TV, video and real-time gaming.
Swantee also talked up the economic benefits of the 4G migration. Citing a recent study commissioned by Everything Everywhere, he said that the rollout of 4G in the UK would trigger £5.5 billion of direct private investment in mobile infrastructure, create around 125,000 jobs and increase UK GDP by 0.5 percent per year.