Having become engaged in Fiber roll-outs in the US, Google is taking its new found communications expertise and applying it to Sub Saharan Africa. The Internet giant plans to connect remote areas of the continent using blimps and high altitude balloons.
The company currently has a pilot scheme running in South Africa connecting local schools. I’m sure that Google isn’t oblivious to the huge potential benefit being the first wide scale provider in Africa might bring in the future. Already they’re sourcing cheap low power Android phones to support the project.
The long term impact of this project is fascinating. Communication is one of the key drivers of prosperity. By providing easy means of cheap communication between businesses in Africa Google will doubtless benefit economies and drive change. The devil will come in trying to persuade all the various governments across the region to play nice.
From an ISP point of view, clever providers will probably already be in discussion with Google to see how they can get involved and it will be interesting to see what un-bundling options Google provides for other interested telecoms companies.
Watch this project with interest, it could be that you’re seeing the beginning of a life changing programme in Africa and the opening of a market with large long term potential.
4G is a range of mobile technologies designed to bring super fast mobile services to your mobile device. If you’ve heard of the snappily named LTE (Long Term Evolution) or Mobile WiMax, these are both 4G technologies.
With speeds approaching those of residential broadband services, 4G will enable HD video streaming, video conferencing, interactive gaming and other high bandwidth services to be viable over the mobile network.
4G uses dedicated bandwidth reserved for broadband mobile services. Typically the governments in different countries auction this bandwidth to the highest bidder in the form of 4G licences. In the UK Ofcom sold licences to five companies and you can find the details of who the successful bidders were here: http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/4g-auction/.
Adoption of 4G services seems to be moving apace with Everything Everywhere (recently branded to EE) reporting over 318 K subscribers in the first quarter 2013. They’re on track for 1 M subscribers by the end of the year and are predicting a 70% coverage of the UK by population in the same time frame.
Currently reported speeds for 4G are roughly five times that of 3G. In real terms this means people are getting about 8 Mbps. This great infographic gives you and idea of what people have been using 4G for: https://explore-orange-live-orangedigital.s3.amazonaws.com/2013/04/23/Web_Usage_Infogram_FINAL.jpg.
Three Interesting 4G Trends to Watch
1. Data Limits – Currently most mobile data providers have fairly stringent data limits. These will have to be relaxed with 4G to prevent usage appearing prohibitive.
2. Residential Broadband Impacted – slow erosion of fixed line broadband as usage patterns change and there is no essential speed difference between fixed and mobile services.
3. Faster Speeds – More efficient spectrum usage and better modulation techniques lead to faster speeds. EE is already headlining speed increases of up to 80 Mbps, by comparison many people without fiber optic fixed line broadband currently get under 8 Mbps.
The advent of high performance mobile broadband is going to change the way we use the Internet allowing for richer experiences in both entertainment and communication as we travel. Just watch out for people video conferencing whilst driving!