4G has been receiving a lot of press recently for its ability to significantly replace existing 3G phone networks. However, just what is 4G, and is it actually that much better than 3G? While 4G can provide superfast download and upload speeds, there are arguments to suggest that the 4G changeover won’t instantly deliver this level of consistency, and that there may still be a long wait until phone users can enjoy its potential. However, 4G, despite its problems, will eventually make it possible for smartphones to be just as effective as desktop computers in terms of broadband speeds.
4G Over 3G?
Since mobile phones were introduced, there have been several standards for wireless connectivity. 1G phones reflected basic analogue mobile connections, while 2G upgraded these to digital signals and messages. 3G, by contrast, offered mobile Internet connections to users, and has developed to enable faster streaming, and the opportunity to download files and browse the Internet on the go. HSPA+ represents a current standard for fast 3G use. 4G is theoretically faster, in the sense that it could provide 50Mbps to 100Mbps speeds, compared to 3G’s 20 Mbps.
The applications for these speeds are broad, and range from the ability to conduct stable video calls on a business mobile, through to being able to download high definition videos. Connections will also be more stable as the result of better networking and signals. In terms of the UK, LTE (Long Term Evolution) 4G networks have become a focus over Wi-Max technologies, which rely more on Wi-Fi. LTE is dependent on improving the existing cellular network, and is underpinning ventures like Everything Everywhere (EE) between Orange and T Mobile, as well as planned 4G networks from O2.
Some Problems with 4G
However, while 4G, if properly implemented, would be a revolution in terms of Internet speeds for smartphone users, there are still some problems with it. Primarily, there is some dispute over what 4G actually means in terms of network standards, and how effectively these standards can be maintained. Carriers don’t always follow the same standards, so we could end up with quite a few different forms of 4G being available, some of which might not be that much of a change from 3G. At the same time, there may be a long wait until 4G is actually on a commercial level that it can replace 3G.
Everything Everywhere launched trial versions of 4G this year, but the prospect of nationwide coverage in the UK is still being held up by disputes over the spectrum for networks, and by whose gets to dominate it. 2013 could be the year when 4G reaches a reasonable level in the UK, but even then, this might only be in a few areas. Many users will consequently have to rely on their 3G networks for a bit longer. Similarly, not all handsets will be compatible with 4G straight away, so you may have to buy a new phone to gain access. Differences in 4G standards across countries also currently means that devices like the iPad and its 4G network are not compatible with a UK 4G network due to spectrum problems.
Rob James is self employed and recommends Distinct Connections business mobile deals, for all your mobile needs. Rob uses internet marketing to promote himself, and recommend you optimise your site for mobiles too. He can usually be found blogging about mobile related topics, and loves checking out the latest gadgets.