Beyond 4G/LTE

The promise of a truly connected world with affordable broadband Internet capable of supporting high quality audio and video streaming is still utopic.

The deployment of LTE-A (or 4G+) is well established in many advanced countries. However, its actual use is still limited due to the data plans pricing and the network coverage mainly available in the largest cities.

In emerging countries, the same phenomenon is happening but with either the previous 4G or the earlier 3G technologies, which don’t support HD and 4K video streaming. While broadband would be appreciated in rural areas, the business feasibility for high-speed mobile networks favors the more populated urban areas first. Telecom operators often ignore second and third tier cities for the most advanced technology, keeping a sufficient gap (years) between “previous technology” in rural areas and the latest technology in the largest urban areas, so they can recoup their investments.

It is unlikely that governments would subsidize rural coverage with the latest mobile broadband networks to democratize high-speed Internet access. On the contrary, governments are looking to auction licenses for more spectrums to get additional revenues. Thus, telecom operators are forced to divert some of their investments in the early buying of spectrum for future use, and spend less in antennae deployment in less dense areas.

The deployment of 5G will only start in 2018 in selected highly populated areas and will progress more slowly compared to the deployment of 3G and 4G technologies. Some experts don’t see 4G (or even 3G) disappearing for the next 15 to 20 years.

In the meantime, on-board entertainment is the way to go!