Published on February 14, 2013 | by Kenny Wastell


4G is transforming the way we consume media

ALN online production manager Kenny Wastell

The chances are you are probably reading this on a snazzy smartphone.

If so, the new Arts London News website is partly designed with you in mind.

You might have noticed that you are able to read stories on a small screen without the need for serious ‘zoomage’.

Similarly those reading on 32-inch LCD displays will not – we hope – be presented with text in font size 372. Responsive design, that’s called.

I would hazard a guess that on-the-go readers probably waited two or three seconds for this page to load, and that two or three-second wait probably irked you. Had I included a video it might have taken an outrageous four seconds to load!

Enter 4G, stage left.

The advent of 4G mobile communications in the UK has the potential to transform the way people consume media.

EE are the only current UK mobile provider to offer 4G. The rest of the pack – six other operators – will be joining shortly, with communications regulator Ofcom currently auctioning off the spectrum.

Faster downloads

In comparison to 3G connectivity, download speeds on 4G are a game changer. In the United States, where 4G is widely available, customers’ average download speeds are ten times faster than those using 3G.

It follows that current limitations when making video calls or watching live streams on-the-go should become a thing of the past.

This will place an even greater emphasis on news providers to deliver information across increasingly converged media formats – more video, more audio, and probably more interactivity. Future ALN multimedia editors, take note.

“Gone are the days where your iPlayer app buffers relentlessly as your train pulls further away from Paddington.”

4G networks will also have a far greater reach than 3G, making fast mobile access available to almost the entire country. EE aims to cover 98 per cent of the UK by 2014.

Gone will be the days where your iPlayer app buffers relentlessly as your train pulls further away from London Paddington.

However, a lot of this impact may be limited if mobile providers continue to cap customers’ data allowances at 500 megabytes per month.

As a mobile user who watches no more than ten Youtube videos per month on 3G, I regularly find my usage capped before billing day.

Even a modest increase to one gigabyte would see a revolution in how smartphone users access news and entertainment.

The future’s bright – or has the potential to be – and it starts with the 4G spectrum auction.


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