Fiber Networks are Great but 4G LTE is the Future Says Salesforce CEO

By | Sep 26, 2012

Wireless is the future, says's Mark Benioff, and fiber doesn't matter. At the recent Dreamforce conference the Salesforce CEO came out fully in favor of 4G and wireless technology. But are wired networks really so obsolete?

4G LTE? Yes Please

According to outspoken CEO Mark Benioff, while broadband fiber projects like the Australian National Broadband Network or Kansas City Google Fiber offer more bandwidth and better Internet access, the real way forward comes through wireless 4G efforts. Speaking at the company's annual Dreamforce conference, Benioff said, "I'm all in favor of more bandwidth, the better--and I think that's great," but he also argued that "at the end of the day we're going to be moving into an LTE generation pretty quickly, and I think everything is going to be wireless," according to an article at Business Spectator.

Benioff says iPads, smartphones, and other mobile devices that can access LTE networks are able to support enterprise workloads easily, rendering wired networks useless. The problem here, however, lies not in ability but in coverage. Although eager to jump on the network bandwagon, many 4G providers don't yet have coverage areas outside of major cities, often resulting in spotty service for users. Take the Australian Commonwealth Bank's smartphone services as an example. Benioff cited them as an example of great use of 4G technology, but local providers Telstra and Optus don't yet have much in the way of LTE coverage; how well these apps work under only 3G isn't exactly clear.

This is the problem for midsize admins often pressured by execs to find telecommuting solutions--4G seems like the simplest answer, but a world where it's as prevalent as 3G isn't here yet.

Cover Me!

Along with the recent iPhone 5 release comes talk of its 4G LTE coverage, including discussions about which providers are best and which still have some distance to go. A recent CNN Money article provides coverage maps for three popular networks: Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. Verizon leads with 371 markets nationwide, serving 75 percent of the U.S. population. AT&T has only 65 markets, and Sprint just 19, but all say they plan to increase coverage "fairly rapidly." AT&T, for example, says they'll add more than 100 cities by year's end, and Sprint plans for the same in "the coming months." All three claim the two "G" types will eventually be ubiquitous, but a hard timeline isn't set. So while Benioff's version of a 4G-friendly future sounds great--and powerful apps already exist--he's jumping the gun. Fiber networks are expensive but more reliable. And though they aren't so useful when commuting, they lack the on-again, off-again problems that many wireless users experience.

Bottom line: Moving forward with 4G apps only makes sense, but it's a little early to dig up cable networks and start making copper wire sculptures. 4G will be a force in midsize IT and workforce commuting, there's no doubt; just not yet.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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