Derek McManus: 4G is a golden opportunity for e-businesses

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BY THE end of 2013, all major mobile network operators will be offering super-fast 4G technology – and with this comes the potential for businesses to transform the way they work and serve their customers.

In Scotland particularly, the vastly improved network coverage available with 4G offers a huge opportunity for businesses located in rural areas. For some, this will be the first time they will have had regular access to a broadband-speed internet connection, let alone one that is completely mobile.

By the end of 2017, at least 95 per cent of Scotland’s population will have access to 4G, meaning businesses that rely heavily on the internet will now be able to locate outside of well-connected towns and cities.

With this comes the opportunity for a boom in e-commerce and so we expect to see a rise in the number of independent online businesses based in rural areas. For example, a small textiles business based in the Highlands will be better equipped to connect with customers and suppliers, both nationally and internationally, due to the fast, seamless mobile experience available with 4G.

More widely, this new technology will help to facilitate a truly flexible Scottish workforce. Large files can be downloaded and sent while on the move, video-conferencing can take place almost anywhere, and real-time data can be sent from the point of source, all without the need for an office, a desk or even a computer.

For smaller businesses especially, where time and resources are often scarce, the improvements to efficiency and productivity as a result of 4G will be invaluable.

But it isn’t all about mobile phones – 4G has uses far beyond the handset. The farming industry is a perfect example, where 4G-enabled solutions could be used to monitor the location of livestock and allow real-time analysis of arable crops and soil conditions.

So, from mobile to mountainside and beyond, 4G is set to revolutionise the way businesses operate, which is why we’re calling on organisations across all sectors to take advantage of this opportunity and help make Scotland truly digital.

• Derek McManus is chief operating officer of O2