THE BLOG

The Need for Speed in the App Economy

26/06/2014 11:38 BST | Updated 25/08/2014 10:59 BST

Currently, to meet our need for 'bandwidth-on-the-go,' 3G is available to some of us. But those of us that have access have all had our share of '3G buffering purgatory' while we wait for videos, documents and especially for applications to download.

3G was launched in the UK nearly a decade ago. Our phones, and the way we use them, have evolved enormously since then. It's no wonder that a technology rolled out when neither smart phones nor twitter were available, is creaking under the strain of 500 million tweets, 300 million videos and countless selfies shared on social networks daily.

The link between high-speed broadband access and increased productivity is well-documented and there has been a focus in the UK and in Europe on providing fixed, high-speed infrastructure. However we live in mobile times and also need ubiquitous, high-speed mobile broadband to help deliver these productivity gains.

As we increasingly rely on apps to run our businesses and our personal lives, the volume of mobile traffic is increasing exponentially. If we already experience buffering and slow downloads on 3G now, how slow will the networks be in 3 - 5 years when we are downloading 80 times what we are today? Ofcom has predicted a 'capacity crunch' by 2030.

Fortunately, 4G technology - the next generation of fast, mobile internet - is now being rolled-out. On average 4G is five times faster than 3G, so it makes things like social networking, watching videos, using business apps and video calling, much smoother.

4G also has the potential to deliver a change in the way we use our devices and what we expect from them. I believe the technology will be a key enabling force behind the new app economy (expected to be worth €63 billion by 2018 according to the European Commission), in which businesses, social lives and even - dare I say - family life are run from mobile devices. As such 4G is a springboard to economic success.

The good news is that 4G networks are expanding in the UK: Relish, a business focused 4G service was launched recently and the main providers are regularly switching on new cities. The government too, is looking ahead. As well as recently announcing additional space on the airwaves for 4G networks, it is already involved in 5G planning. The UK and Europe must come together to demand a fast lane to ensure that our App-conomy keeps growing at speed.