There’s a lot of talk about cellular service providers unrolling their 4G networks, but most people still don’t know the difference between the new and the old and how it will affect them. For starters the “G” means generation and yeap, you guessed it, we’re entering our fourth generation in technological advancements in the cellular service industry. So now you know why it is called what it is called, but what is the true difference? What can we expect to experience differently from what we are used to?
This may not make a huge difference with you, but the frequency bands are different between 3G and 4G. With 3G, the frequency is usually between 1.8 and 2.5 GHz (Gigahertz = unit of frequency) and can transfer data at a rate around 3 MB/second (about a song’s worth of data per second). With 4G, the frequency bandwidth is between 2 and 8 GHz and can transfer data from 3 MB/second up to 12 MB/second, but with the potential to get up to 200 MB/second. So that would allow users to view streaming video clearly in HD, download their favorite TV shows in minutes rather than hours, and allow for overall faster service while perusing the internet. The types of 4G broadband networks are LTE (Long-Term Evolution), Wimax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access), and WiFi.
When Verizon created their CDMA platform (the name for their 3G platform) they did not include the capabilities for upgrades to their 3G service to make it faster (unlike Sprint, for example, who was able to update their 3G service). As a result, Verizon is now rolling out 4G service and all of the other companies are soon to follow if they haven’t already. Of the main cellular carriers, T-Mobile has promised to roll out 4G soon (whatever that means), Sprint already has a 4G network, Verizon is in the process with some cities ready to go (like Boston and NYC) , and AT&T promises to roll out 4G in 2011.
So that is the basic gist of the difference between 3G and 4G, so you should be happy and excited to get your hands on a 4G enabled smartphone when you have your next available upgrade and when your carrier has a solid 4G infrastructure in place. I know there are 3G and 4G articles up everywhere, but if you haven’t read the differences just yet, perhaps this shed some light for you.