Tasting the tantalising 4G experience

Source: Mr G M Mangion¸ PKF Malta

As published on Media Today Wednesday 25th of September 2013


It all started with the launching of the IPhone 5 smartphone model by Apple Inc. It proudly uses the enhanced 4G bandwidth now widely available in US. Like a bolt in the blue the media world is agog with the excitement of more Apple model releases which can benefit from this technology. It is no surprise that Apple¸ hot on the heels of launching the iPhone 5s and 5c¸ recently sold nine million sets in first three days. Simply put the new 4G wireless operates with much better interactivity thus giving more power for users and opens other untapped possibilities. This ushers in the world of digital wonderland.

The exciting challenge is currently surfacing in a big way in the European Commission¸ which has finally approved clear technical rules for regulating charges by the telecoms industry. It is now up to the telecom companies in Europe to wake up to the challenge. For example ¸the race to be Ireland’s first mobile 4G operator looks set to be decided between Vodafone and Meteor¸ quoting senior telecoms figures.Both networks will launch this year – in late September or early October. However¸ it has emerged that O2 may not launch its 4G services until 2014. Imagine the typical Maltese user on the go¸ with car keys in pocket¸ saddle bag packed¸ smartphone in hand and out to work. This is the start of a typical day¸ with locals using their smartphones along their daily commute enjoying all media making us eligible to join other Western countries in this technologically savvy world.

It is a pity that while more users in Europe are tuned to smartphones running on 4G technology our telecom companies are still offering 3G  while  struggling to feature the full 4G LTE service. Internet speeds on the 4th generation LTE network are 5-10 times faster than on 3G networks (depending on the country and carrier) with the added inconvenience of averaging 13 minutes to download a movie onto a 3G smartphone -cut to about 2 and a half minutes . There is then the bonus of the commercialization of all the services and accessories to compliment these phones making them a hot topic of competition among most electronic and mobile conglomerates.

This prompts the question¸ is the Maltese telecoms regulator ready to make a giant step to upgrade the bandwidth to next level enriching the experience of users? Some may reply in the negative blaming the limitations of the subscribers in local market willing to pay in order to take the next big leap in technology. The fastest mobile speed available today in Malta can reach around 43Mbps over 3G yet this is not available everywhere and subscribers have to be pay extra for this speed. .By comparison LTE provides speeds of 100 Mbps that support more data-intensive services such as high quality video¸ music streaming¸ mobile commerce¸ and mobile health services. It is a bonus for the expanding remote gaming industry employing thousands.

Customers can also expect faster response times making interactive gaming and video conferencing available through mobile broadband. In this way consumers having paid a premium to acquire a 4G device will be able to simultaneously use mobile internet without compromising speed. One hopes that no stone is left unturned for the island to quickly catch up with the rest of Eur