Pi Attitude Zone: Connectivity & Drive

4G Mobile In Race Against Time

They’re wired in Seoul, man.  The world of mobile telephony carefully watches South Korea to see what will happen next in the rest of the world.

Super-speedy 4G mobile networks, already well-established with South Koreans, are being offered to telephony companies around the world.  The advantage of 4G over its predecessor technologies?  Blistering download speeds and greatly increased bandwidth, holding enormous volumes of internet content constantly and simultaneously available for mobile phone users to consult.

What do pioneer 4G consumers like about it?  Virtually instantaneous access to anything, even when talking to your cellphone using voice commands, rather than typing on the keypad.  “Hey, phone:  what’s the secret ingredient in Hungarian goulash?  Oh, paprika, hey?  Golly, that was quick!

Customers love it, but telephone service providers around the world have been getting into a nervous funk.  The reason has been the high cost to operators of securing a 4G network license.  Aside from issues of patchy signal coverage (download speed can drop dramatically between one city block and the next), mobile service operators are unsure if they can recoup their investment fast enough.

4G progress in South Korea has been watched nervously by the industry worldwide, as a kind of laboratory test.  “The traffic increases”, said SK Telecom in Seoul, “but the revenue does not necessarily follow”.  “Consumers are not willing to pay enough”, echoed rival KT Corporation.  Revenues have risen, but so far not yet sufficiently to ensure payback on the investment in network licenses.

On the plus side, around 30% of S. Korea’s 50 million mobile phone users were using 4G by 2013.  Moreover, their download consumption levels have increased five-fold, from 340 Mb monthly to a huge 1.8 Gigabytes.  Optimistic pioneer service providers believe they can ride the 4G wave to greater market dominance, if pricing issues can be resolved.

Pi says:  4G is certainly fast enough to impress customers.  But will its growth be fast enough for mobile phone companies’ business plans?

Zone: Connectivity & Drive Country: Asia / Pacific Product – Communications