But why should businesses care about 4G? What practical applications does mobile broadband have for the typical enterprise user? While the answer is obviously different for every business, one key advantage that pretty much everyone can agree on is data transfer speed. Simply put, if you want a mobile connection that will transfer data to a central database faster than with HSPA or EV-DO Rev. A connections, then 4G technologies are for you.
Kayentis, a Philadelphia-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider, recently took the early plunge into 4G technologies when it decided to incorporate Sprint's WiMax technology into its business model. Guy Maestre, vice president of North American operations for Kayentis, talked with Network World's Brad Reed about why mobility is so vital to Kayentis's business, what WiMax will allow the company to do that it couldn't do before, and why the company decided to choose Sprint rather than wait for Verizon to launch its own 4G services.
What does Kayentis do and how does mobile broadband fit into the picture?
In short, we provide data-capture services to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. We essentially develop special types of paper for companies to use that are filled with microscopic dots that act like fingerprints for individual pages.
Then we give users a special pen that has a camera on its tip that scans the dots on the page and that can recognise the unique imprint on each page. So when someone is filling out a particular form with the pen, it will not only capture what they're writing but also will be able to recognise the form itself by reading the dot pattern. The pen then takes all that data and sends it back to a central database that gives people at the company immediate feedback on the progress of whatever project or study they're working on.
So you need a fast wireless web connection to transfer data from the pen to the database?
Exactly. One of beauties of this technology is that the size of the data itself we're transferring is very limited and the pen's memory can hold up to 200 pages worth of data. But you do need to get the information and download it into the database right away. If I'm working in the healthcare or pharmaceutical industry, I cannot be waiting around for it to download.
Before adopting Sprint's 4G technology, what sorts of mobile technology did you use?
We were using AT&T's 3G technology. Why did you decide to invest in WiMax right now rather than wait for Verizon or AT&T to come out with LTE next year?
We felt that the benefit of being able to demonstrate 4G speeds in front of our customers was worth it. I didn't want to wait six months or a year to be able to show those kinds of speeds for my demonstrations. The technology that we're using is very interactive, so it's critical that our customers are able to see data going out to the database right away. We need to show them the immediacy of the data transfer over a 4G connection. Also, we're a very cutting edge company in our field and we liked the fact that Sprint was the leader on the market as the first ones out with 4G, so it was a good fit.
What will WiMax allow you to do that you can't do right now?
I don't think that there's anything 4G allows us to do now that we couldn't before, but it allows us to do it better and faster. And the nice thing is that these devices work on both 3G and 4G connections so we always have the benefit of falling back on Sprint's 3G network in areas where there's no 4G yet. In other words, I'm never left in limbo, I'm always going to be able to connect.