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4G LTE: How will it impact the Internet?

Since the introduction of 3G commercial networks in 2002, there has been a sharp increase in the number of devices connecting to the Internet.

From mobile phones to tablets, 3G has opened the floodgates to devices that provide users with access to the Internet on the go – and more devices means more consumption of IP addresses. Asia is an example of this. The region accounts for nearly half of the world’s connected devices, according to the GSMA, and it depleted its unallocated IPv4 address pool over a year and a half before Europe did.

But what happens next?

LTE, sometimes known as 4G, is the successor of 3G and aims to provide ultra-speed Internet access and download capability, with much faster and more efficient data transmission. Demand for streaming data on-the-move is constantly growing – from GPS and mapping, through to games and films - and LTE aims to meet this demand.

There’s a growing thirst from the general public for all mobile devices from laptops and USB wireless modems to smartphones, to be LTE-enabled. But there’s now also growth in connected devices around the home, workplaces and even in public spaces – everything from TVs to the fridge.

A recent report by IMS Research suggests that by the end of this year there will be nearly ten billion devices connected to the Internet and that by 2020 there will be over 28 billion.

And as 3G is rapidly being replaced by LTE – South Korea already has 20 per cent of its population using LTE devices, and the technology is finally launching in the UK on 30th October – we’re only going to see that number increase.

So what does LTE mean for IPv6?

Put simply, LTE heralds a trend for more connected devices and this increases the demand for more IP addresses. For some time, IPv4 addresses sufficed to meet this need but only the transition to IPv6 will provide sufficient address space to keep connecting the ever-increasing number of devices to the internet for many years to come.