4G or the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards is to provide high-speed transmission, which can support high-quality streaming video. In fact, these 4G technologies include mobile WiMax and LTE. Importantly, this 4G is not backward-compatible with 3G, but uses spectrum more efficiently.
Today smartphones are seen using for internet accessing and data transmission much widely. This situation is created a huge demand for reliable wireless data networks with wide coverage from the carriers. Currently, we are experiencing the 3G network technologies for this purpose, which is a ten years old for us. Now, the trend is 4G networks and this can offer fast and effective broadband services for smartphones.
This 4G network is comprises of two main technologies and those are WiMax and LTE. Here, WiMax is a wide-area standard from the IEEE. LTE is the latest standard from the 3GPP, an industry group that brought out the earlier 3G networking technologies.
Advanced antenna technologies are the major backbone for this WiMax and LTE for the proper reception and effective performance. Here, each one uses different parts of the wireless spectrum for the effective working. Importantly, neither will operate at current frequencies, and neither natively supports voice transmission. This is indicating a necessity for the smartphone to utilize a 3G chip to have voice calls successfully and also will enable roaming between carriers and geographic areas.
Currently Sprint is the only carrier offering 4G service in the U.S. For this, Sprint uses WiMax technology on the Android-based HTC EVO 4G and Samsung Epic 4G phones. Verizon wireless has said that it expects to ship LTE phones by mid-2011.
Today a provider is privileged to avail different 4G technologies, but this will be provided four to 10 times the throughput of 3G networks. This facility can improve the faster downloads and streaming of videos and 4G will result as a great boon for this purpose. Through this some of the apps that demand improved performance for video, chat, videoconferencing, MMS, gaming and HDTV will benefit more through these 4G services.
Soon home broadband services also will see the replacement with this 4G service. The WiMax 4G service will become cheaper and affordable than the home broadband along with a 3G wireless plan. This 4G service can facilitate a download speed of 100Mbit/sec.
4G: Who’s Got What?
4G service is currently available in several countries. Japan, Korea and Russia have WiMax networks, and a commercial LTE network is running in Sweden. Here’s a rundown of 4G plans in the U.S.
AT&T Inc. plans to use LTE when it eventually upgrades to 4G in 2011, but for now it’s sticking with its current 3G network.
Verizon Wireless is testing LTE equipment from several vendors, and it plans to begin rolling out 4G this year and to cover most of the country by 2012. The company hasn’t announced LTE pricing.
Sprint is partnering with Clearwire Corp. to offer WiMax-based 4G service in nearly 50 major U.S. markets. Clearwire/Sprint’s 4G plans typically include unlimited data access, whereas most 3G plans charge extra for downloading more than 5GB per month. Clearwire-based plans are commonly $10 to $20 per month cheaper than 3G data plans. Clearwire recently announced an effort to roll out and test systems that incorporate both LTE and WiMax technologies.
T-Mobile USA is launching a 3G variant (sometimes called 3.5G) in 100 U.S. cities. The carrier is expected to offer LTE services sometime in the future, but it has not set a specific date for doing so.
MetroPCS Communications Inc. plans to introduce LTE in Las Vegas before 2011 using a dual-mode 3G/LTE phone by Samsung.
U.S. Cellular will probably use LTE when it offers 4G service, but it hasn’t announced a schedule for doing so.
Sources: News reports, GigaOm.com and PC World