You May Be Ready for 4G, But Is It Ready for You?

We’re all seriously cell phone dependent at this point, for sure.  But as a home-based or other small business owner, your cell phone may very well be of particular importance to you and your livelihood.  In fact, it may be all that stands between you and closing the next deal. 

Introduced in 2008, 4G cell phone technology has gained serious momentum as of late due to the fact that more networks came on board this past fall.  Given all the recent excitement and the important role your cell phone plays in your daily routine as a business owner, you may be wondering if making the jump “up” to 4G is a smart move.

First, it’s important to understand what 4G is exactly.  In keeping with the classic marketing ploy that claims a product is “new and improved,” 4G is every bit as much about marketing as it is about newfangled technological capabilities.  In fact, all that “G” really stands for is the next generation, which implies a promise of many things, not the least of which is speed.  And when it comes to speed, 4G does deliver.  However, the current conventional wisdom is that 4G is still in its relative infancy and therefore presents a host of challenges for consumers―challenges they should be aware of before they assume 4G is right for them and just dive right in.

One of the greatest concerns out there right now for cheap startup business owners concerns 4G’s reliability.  Although the technology works well for some people depending on where they are in the country, all indications are that it may not yet be ready for prime time just anywhere and everywhere.  In fact, 4G coverage can be very limited and spotty.  As such, most 4G devices are designed to fall back on a slower 3G network when necessary.  Even in clearly defined 4G service areas, the faster connections can oftentimes get lost and bumped down to 3G.  The bottom line on reliability is that 4G just isn’t there yet, so is it worth it?  You decide.

The 4G networks also place unprecedented demand on a cell phone’s battery.  Although there are technological advances in the works to address this issue, they’re not available just yet.  In the meantime, 4G phones provide you with the option to switch off the 4G technology so you can preserve battery life.  Unfortunately, making those adjustments is often necessary on a daily basis if you want to get through a 24-hour period between charges.  The bottom line on the toll 4G might take on your phone is that it can be significant and mitigating the damage may take time and effort you just don’t have.  So is it worth it?  You decide.

Finally, you may want to consider the cost implications of making the leap to 4G.  Data caps on 4G plans are commonplace.  Very few carriers currently offer unlimited plans at an affordable price, and blasting right through your data cap can happen all too quickly and at quite a substantial cost.  In fact, just three hours of high-definition streaming can put you at the monthly limit for the most common plans, which are often 5 GB.  The bottom line on cost is that 4G is currently very expensive, so is it worth it?  You decide.

Reliability issues, equipment issues and cost are just three of the concerns you’ll want to mull over before taking the 4G plunge.  Thankfully, most experts agree that these challenges are temporary.  And if you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where many of these 4G bugs have been worked out, then you’re in the catbird seat on a number of levels, at least for now.  After all, you’re enjoying all the benefits of 4G’s promise with very little competition to slow you down.  Just know that as the technology evolves to meet its full potential and more carriers build their capacity to deliver 4G services, demand will once again trump supply as has been the case with every prior generation of technology.  5G anyone?