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4G is 4th Generation of Mobile Phone Networks

As a war of words between boastful mobile phone networks continues, who is really telling the truth when talking about 4thGeneration?

Definition of 4G

You could use your mobile phone to look up a definition of 4G on the internet. And the speed with which you can access the information will depend on whether you have 4G or 3G or 2G.

4G gets its name through being the Fourth Generation of mobile phone standards. It is a successor to 2G and 3G and carries the promise of faster downloading speeds than its predecessors.

On October 21st 2010, the United Nations agency The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) defined 4G as a network capable of reaching a peak mobile download speed of 100 megabits per second.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal pointed out that many carriers have been boasting about their 4G networks long before the first official definition was produced.

So how many carriers actually satisfy the 4G criteria?
Empty boasts
US wireless giants Verizon Wireless, T Mobile USA and Sprint Nextel all claim to have spent much money upgrading their networks to embrace 4G. Yet none of these carriers satisfy the ITU 100 megabits per second criteria.

According to the companies and research by the Wall Street Journal, Verizon Wireless reached a maximum average download speed of 12 megabits per second.

  • For T-Mobile USA, it was 8 megabits per second.
  • For Sprint Nextel it was 6 megabits per second.

The real 4G carriers
The ITU found that only the LTE-Advanced and Wimax 2 technologies really do what they say on the tin by reaching 4G processing speeds.

Sadly, it is expected that these services won’t be available in the UK for some years to come.

Which probably won’t stop salespeople from talking about 4G phones while holding a 3G or a 2G handset under your nose.

Why is 4G so important?
Mobile phone networks are concerned that less people are subscribing to contracts.

To compensate for this lost revenue they are hoping that consumers will upgrade to more powerful 4G phones and will be willing to pay extra money for costly data services (such as accessing the internet).

But they could have their work cut out as cost-conscious Brits are moving to pay as you go giffgaff-style deals at a speed far greater than the supposed 4G technologies can achieve.

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