What 4G means to the mobile consumer

By: | Updated: March 10, 2016 3:29 PM

4G is finally here, and we are seeing another wave of faster internet speeds and offerings from the service providers. Airtel, Idea, Vodafone, Reliance Jio have already announced the availability of 4G in specific markets, as a start.

4G is finally here, and we are seeing another wave of faster internet speeds and offerings from the service providers. Airtel, Idea, Vodafone, Reliance Jio have already announced the availability of 4G in specific markets, as a start. 4G is finally here, and we are seeing another wave of faster internet speeds and offerings from the service providers. Airtel, Idea, Vodafone, Reliance Jio have already announced the availability of 4G in specific markets, as a start.

4G is finally here, and we are seeing another wave of faster internet speeds and offerings from the service providers. Airtel, Idea, Vodafone, Reliance Jio have already announced the availability of 4G in specific markets, as a start. Before we dive into predicting what 4G will bring in, let’s look at how the internet has grown on us over the years.

There are predictions that out of 400 million internet users in India, more than 300 million are accessing the internet from their mobile devices, and this number will only continue to grow.

The Indian consumer has seen the early days of the mobile internet with a basic GPRS connection (2.5G), followed by EDGE (2.75G) and, most recently, with the 3G offerings available in the market.

Did faster networks really change the mobile internet patterns of consumers? I think it brought about a sea change in the way we consume the internet on our laptops and mobile devices. On slow networks like GPRS/EDGE, consumers would be hooked on to the WAP sites promoting entertainment, news and similar content, but the experience was not rich and engaging for the user.

With 3G, many new avenues opened up for consumers to engage with the internet viz. multi-player games, online purchases, buying and selling goods, among many more. Services like social media, chat messengers and ticketing also gained popularity due to the high engagement factor.

It is not just 3G that contributed to this sea change in our internet consumption patterns, but also the advent of smartphones and high-end Android devices at affordable price-points for consumers, allowing them to experience the full realm of interactive, internet services.

With all this context, what can 4G really do for us—the consumer. There are some key trends to look out for. With 4G, we expect the internet speeds to be much faster than currently available 3G speeds, and it is important that service providers live up to this promise to build the trust in their 4G offerings and attract consumers to open their wallets for 4G service.

Mobile video: There is a growing demand for mobile video content across genres, and this need will only increase with a high-speed data network.

Music streaming: Global, Bollywood and other regional music content is driving significant adoption of currently available music-streaming services. With 4G, consumers should expect to benefit with more cloud-based offerings where users need not download or stream music from their devices but rather access it from the cloud.

Mobile gaming: With 4G, the online gaming experience will significantly improve, and this should entice game developers to come out with highly engaging features for consumers.

Video conferencing: For a long time, we have experienced patchy call quality while making video calls. This should change with 4G, which means consumers should be able to make video calls without any glitches.

What should we expect from mobile carriers on 4G?

Attractive pricing: India has always been a cost-sensitive market, and it is no surprise that some carriers have announced their 4G offerings at 3G rates.

Content bundling: Carriers understand that content is the key to growth, and it would be natural to expect carriers to come out with special offers around services like streaming, gaming stores, video chat, etc.

Free upgrades: Carriers will target existing 3G users to try the new service and build trust for their 4G offerings. Some of them might offer free upgrades or free SIM cards to drive early adopters.

Handset tie-ups: Carriers will bundle 4G devices and make a combined price offer to consumers to upgrade their devices and their mobile internet connections.

To summarise it is an interesting time for all players involved in the telecom business, and everyone is looking at the 4G launch keenly, with high expectations around superior internet speeds, attractive tariffs and suitable content to consume on smartphones.

The writer is vice-president, South Asia & South East Asia, Opera Software

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