For mobile workers out on the road, the advent of 3G data connectivity has proved to be an enormous boost.
Rather than having to check into the office via phone every few hours to keep their manager up to date on their progress, they can simply drop them an email or get in touch via instant messaging.
If they are travelling from location to location, information on customers and sales opportunities can be stored on their mobile devices – or easily accessible on the internet.
While in the past mobile workers may have felt entirely disconnected from the office, they are now no longer than a few clicks away from their bosses and colleagues, irrespective of their physical location.
With 4G technology on the way, the opportunities for mobile working are only set to increase.
Later this year – or by Q1 2013 at the latest – media regulator Ofcom plans to auction off spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequency bands to mobile operators, allowing them to launch next-generation mobile services.
Once 4G launches in the UK – as it already has in countries such as the US and Sweden – smartphone, media tablet and dongle users will have access to faster mobile broadband speeds.
They will also be able to take advantage of broader coverage – with fourth-generation networks offering online access in a greater proportion of Britain.
Hans Roth, director of technology at Harman, expects mobile workers’ data consumption to increase exponentially following the launch of 4G, such is the benefit of online services to employees on the move.
He suggested that this development – aligned with the advent of the smart car – will create a number of opportunities for roving salespeople and other mobile staff.
“4G will offer the ability to access more content and higher-quality content, such as HD,” Mr Roth explained. “With a HTML5 network within the car, it will be easier to access this data for all passengers.”
He noted that HTML5 allows the remote control of car functions through simple integration of smartphones via Wi-Fi and HTML5 browser, without specific applications or software.
And this offers a much wider range of functions for rear-seat passengers, or those accessing the internet in their vehicles between journeys.