Data and voice

With the transition to 4G, our daily data exchanges use an entirely internet-based protocol (IP protocol), transforming smartphones into mobile internet access points. After 2G, which only allowed voice communication, and 3G, which saw the start of data exchange, 4G opens a new era of superfast broadband. No more data loss and, above all, much faster transmission speeds.

“A revolution which could be compared to the transition from film to digital in photography.” explains Bruno Letellier, director of the Advanced SIM Business Line in OT’s Mobile Network Operators business.

4G offers enormous freedom to users, from videoconferencing to sharing of large files (emails, videos, etc.). Telecommunications are advancing and will continue to advance as mobile application developers embrace the new standard.

This new paradigm has major implications for mobile operators, however. New network, new antennae, new protocols and new SIM cards – investments by operators to keep pace with this progress are creating new opportunities.  

Remote operation

4G SIM cards mark real progress for mobile operators. Innovations such as the fireFly range of cards from OT allow the information stored in the SIM cards of millions of customers’ telephones to be updated automatically… and remotely!

“Thanks to bundled, ready-to-use solutions incorporating the server and cards, the logistics associated with the roll-out of 4G are considerably easier for the operator,” says Bruno Letellier.

Let’s take the example of a smartphone user traveling abroad. Previously, the choice of roaming network was managed by the operator via SMS, with varying degrees of success. Today, using fireFly SIM cards and the OTA (Over-The-Air) platform, updating is carried out using IP technology. The SIM regularly connects to a server. When an update is available, it downloads it automatically. The operator is free to configure the rate of updating at its leisure. The system is more reliable and the card is always up-to-date. The costs incurred by the operator and the number of SIM card products in stock are considerably reduced. Even for specific needs (e.g. SIM cards for a company banning employee access to premium rate numbers), the update can also be carried out remotely. For operators, roll-out of 4G is therefore a means of simplifying its operations, as well as conquering new markets.  

A future-proof 4G card

However, these “new generation” SIM cards go even further – they are ahead of application developers. Let’s take an example. Just like other data (images and video), 4G voice is also digitized and transmitted using an IP protocol. This new solution, called VoLTE (Voice over LTE), is being embraced by operators and widely incorporated into their roadmaps, with no fewer than 25 commercial launches already recorded. Many application developers will be quick to catch up with this new functionality and take advantage of the new uses it will allow. At this launch phase, it will be in operators’ interests to rapidly deploy 4G SIM cards, considering their ability to carry out OTA updates at some point in the future. This gives them time to prepare their services offer, which the end-user will be able to access without any new hardware.

4G is today a reality for 422 operators worldwide and is now spreading to emerging countries. This new technology is opening up new horizons for all players due to its all-IP architecture and implementation via 4G SIM cards and OTA platforms. The next stage will see the arrival of 5G, due to emerge in the coming years. This presents a new challenge for mobile operators, but above all offers even faster broadband and greater security for critical communications and users surrounded by connected objects. Without a doubt, our future will be increasingly digital and increasingly connected.