'4G will take the enterprise to places it didn't even know it could go,' says Ericsson official

4G to enable new applications, greater collaboration in the workplace

"4G will take the enterprise to places it didn't even know it could go," said L. Ken Durand, vice president of business development for solution access media at Ericsson (NYSE: ERIC), during a panel discussion held on Wednesday at the ITExpo East being held here in Miami.

Durand explained that the 4G LTE network will make it "far simpler" for employees to move large amounts of data to cloud storage services, raising data security risks for the enterprise.

IT departments have to move from their traditional security process to more of a business effectiveness process; 4G capabilities will put pressure on IT to make the transition, Durand explained.

In addition, 4G will enable a whole wave of innovation in machine-to-machine applications, Durand said. While most of the current M2M applications, such as fleet management, do not require 4G, its introduction will inspire new M2M services.

Durand cited as an example Ericsson's recent telematics partnership with Volvo, which will provide streaming video from the cloud to the car. Videos being offered initially include interactive instructions on how to use various car functions.

Mike Sapien, principal analyst for Ovum's enterprise practice, threw some cold water on this 4G enthusiasm. He cautioned that "it will take some time for IT to figure out what do with 4G." One simple application of 4G in the enterprise could be a high-speed hotspot enabling employees to collaborate on data-intensive projects.

Sapien explained that 4G LTE provides IP-based connectivity, enabling all of the IP-based applications to be delivered to mobile devices and providing employees with the ability to multi-task on their mobile devices.

Chris Ebert, head of 4G strategy at Nokia Siemens Networks, agreed with Sapien that the transition to 4G will help enterprises benefit from powerful new applications, while reducing costs. Ebert shared Durand's concern about data security in a 4G environment.

Nokia Siemens Networks is focusing its efforts on its 3G and 4G business in an effort to turnaround the struggling joint venture between Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and Siemens. As part of that effort, the firm announced in December that it was selling its business support systems and optical networks business units, and shutting down its German network infrastructure services unit.

The strategy seems to be working, as Nokia Siemens Networks posted 5 percent year-over-year and 14 percent quarter-over-quarter gains in revenue this month. The joint venture's operating margin improved quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year to a 14.4 percent of sales in the fourth quarter, the highest level of underlying operating profitability since its formation in 2007,

Kevin Edwards, director of wireless carrier channels at TELES Communications, noted that BYOD presents an opportunity for carriers to offer mobile device management services that could include partitioning of work data from personal data to improve data security, as well as protect user privacy, he said.

Edwards noted that there have been some in-building penetration issues for 3G and 4G services, but he is confident that carriers will look at ways to improve in-building access through fixed-wireless solutions.

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