What is 4G?
Every so often the media introduces a term and the populous runs with it. For instance, what does “Web 2.0” really mean? In similar fashion the world was presented the term “4G” and we are told to blindly purchase such phones because “4G” must be better than “3G”. Before you shell out money for such a device, I’ll try to remove some of the mysticism behind the term.
CNET has written a great article on the intricacies on what 4G is and the current confusion in the marketplace. 4G is a term representing the next generation of cell phone networks (from the current “3G” networks) that promise to deliver higher internet speeds to your mobile device. According to the article, currently there are no true 4G networks since none of the networks (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, etc…) fulfill the current requirements for the 4G designation given by the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations sanctioned group that handles communication issues globally. The CNET article mentions that one of the requirements for a 4G network is that the network must be able to provide speeds up to 100 Mbps. The fastest network as of this writing only can deliver speeds up to 12 Mbps; nowhere near the stated requirements. In other words, all of the propaganda in the media concerning 4G coverage could be fundamentally incorrect.
My advice: if you are not using your phone as a mobile hotspot for other devices or as a portable movie theater through Netflix, you can live without 4G. The truth is until 4G becomes pervasive enough to be ubiquitous in the United States, a “4G” phone will simply become a 3G phone utilizing the already existing 3G network for most of the United States. And if you are not a heavy internet user, you will not notice the speed difference that a 4G network can provide. So get your 3G phone (which is essentially any smart phone on the market) and be happy. As new technology rolls out there are usually a lot of issues present before that technology matures, so people willing to get devices utilizing that technology early (aka “early adopters”) may soon be taking advantage of their insurance. For now, stick with your 3G phone until true 4G is rolled out in your area.
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