In its latest assessment of the telecommunications market, ComReg reveals that the number of smartphone/tablet users increased to 2,811,170 in Q2 2014, up by 3.4 per cent from Q1 2014 and a whopping 14.7 per cent compared to Q2 2013.
And with global pre-orders of Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 plus currently standing at over 4 million units, our love affair with the smart device and the immediacy of staying connected on the go, is set to continue.
Smartphones and tablets represent the potential for huge productivity gains, as the lines between our personal and private lives become increasingly intertwined. And 4G connectivity is at the heart of this growing phenomenon, according to David Walsh, director of commercial and SME, with eircom.
“We have well over 55,000 customers on the 4G network since September, 2013 with 50 per cent of the population covered and 60 per cent by December,” he said.
“4G is an enabler for always on connectivity and the smartphone has changed the nature of how people are accessing content. Whether you have a fibre connection in the office or you’re using 4G on the road, it helps to ensure that you’re always connected and you can continue to conduct business and get things done, wherever you are.”
But 4G adoption is not just about being able to download larger files or use multimedia communications. It’s about streamlining business processes, even for smaller organisations.
“We recently launched a ‘Payment on the Go’ (POGO) solution with AIB merchant services,” said Walsh. “It’s essentially a credit card terminal which connects via bluetooth to your smartphone and then runs the payment through an app, so you don’t have to have carry cash with you if you’re a small trader. You can take a credit card payment on the go and issue an electronic receipt on the spot. It’s great for the ‘man in the van’.”
Over one-fifth of Vodafone’s business customers have made the move to 4G and with 70 per cent of coverage including six cities and over 260 towns, many are discovering 4G for the first time.
“The next wave of handset upgrades – customers moving to the next generation iPhone for example – will bring a whole raft of new customers onto the 4G service,” said Jonathan Rutherford, head of enterprise marketing with Vodafone.
“Around 15 per cent of our corporate clients are using managed tablet services and it’s becoming really popular, particularly in the public sector.
“These clients are rolling out tablets to staff and are looking for us to take the management headache away. We do everything from staging these tablets, installing the right apps and making sure they have right security policy. We also manage end user queries and problems such as broken or cracked tablets,” he said.
At IP telephony services company, Blueface, Brian Martin, business development manager sees much tighter integration between mobile and fixed networks into the future.
“We view the mobile as an extension of a phone system so users have one extension to dial, whether that’s your landline or mobile,” he said. “Voice mails are sent as email recordings and the customer gets a single bill for the service.
“But once 4G/LTE or even 5G emerges, that could change the reliance from wires in the ground to wireless solutions. With increases in broadband, people want more mobility whether that’s on the road as part of a sales and support team or whether that’s someone working remotely,” he said.