Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Truth About 4G

Before I go into 4G lets start by clarifying network Technology

GSM: (Global System for Mobile Communications).This is the global standard for cell phones. It has 3 Levels of cell service GPRS, EDGE (2G) and UMTS (3G) by its nature GSM offers faster data and also allows surfing the web whilst on a phone call (If on 3G, not EDGE) but is more likely to drop calls. Examples of GSM carriers: AT&T and T-Mobile.

CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) This is a less used concept around the world, but is way more efficient then GSM. It wont drop calls as much as a GSM network, but data will be much slower (Max speeds I could attain 1.5 MBPS) and another limitation is no simultaneous talk and surf

4G: Fourth generation cell phone networking the future is here and I like it. It allows speeds that rival those of some peoples home internet connections. But sadly some providers are touting 4G that simply isn’t “Real”.

The Myth: Take the Motorola Atrix 4G from AT&T for example its called 4G but in fact isn’t really, so it uses technology called HSPA+ which is the same technology used in AT&T’s 3G network. In essence, what AT&T and T-Mobile are advertising as real 4G is really just souped up 3G per say. In tests on the Atrix, Blackberry Torch 4G,and iPhone 4S which all use HSPA+ I got speed ranges at about 5-7 MBPS download and 1-3 upload. Not even close to 4G speeds ratified International Telecommunications union. So basically AT&T advertising 4G is a farce as of now, and T-Mobile really doesn't have real 4G at all technically speaking.

Sprint on the other hand uses 4G technology based on Wi-Max. Notice how it’s similar to in name to wifi? That’s because it’s based off of it. It uses the wifi 802.16 standard. Now sprint has had this technology for a while now and they had somewhat of an edge on their competition which they blew. The speeds on this network were about 3-4 MBPS down 1-2 up. This is probably why their ditching Clearwire the supplier of sprints Wimax network. What’s the point of having a 4G network slower then a GSM network?

LTE; Long Term Evolution, wasn’t considered 4G for a while it was really 3.9 G. Basically close but no cigar. Recently the Telecommunications union called all of the above technology 4G after pressure from carriers, but LTE is the closest and thus is the closest to 4G you will ever get. The speeds are amazing lightening fast 10 MBPS download I even hit 21 which is the same speeds I can get on my home internet. Which is kind of a shame to have all this power but having evil data caps.2GB caps will easily be blown through when you have this much power.
A lot of buzz has been going on about poor battery life. This is true but it’s more of a design sacrifice. This is due to the fact that there aren’t any integrated 3G/4G radios so basically you have 2 radios in your phone putting extra stress on your battery. This is the main reason why apple didn’t have an LTE iPhone. This is the design sacrifice they didn't want to make. Here is the ray of sunshine. Next year we will have integrated chips. So an LTE iPhone may arrive and new LTE phones will have drastically better battery life. Another coup d’├ętat of LTE is there is no voice protocol. Basically you can’t place a voice call over it yet. Verizon is said to be working on this and the cool part is, voice quality will be amazing, if you’re talking to another 4G LTE phone. Long Term Evolution is a GSM standard so basically Sprint and Verizon are moving toward a brand new standard allowing faster speeds and AT LAST simultaneous surf and talk. Let me tell I love this feature. When I was younger I would be on my old’ blackberry with my annoying girlfriend and I could be on ESPN.com or a radio shows message board Its something that CDMA subscribers will learn to love. And the big thing here is if your 4G phone is only HSPA+ or Wimax only capable you will be left out in the cold on this wonderful LTE world. And mark my words sprint is changing to LTE and will make your EVO’s worthless.

Even though the Telecommunications Board caved to carriers demands and called these standards 4G they really aren’t LTE is the most promising. Don’t get me wrong my iPhone 4S uses HSPA+ and its fast, but it isn’t 4G and it isn’t marketed as such. In my opinion and this all opinion LTE is the best investment once the integrated radio’s come out. As always guys Stay Hungry. If you have any questions, send me a tweet.

Written by: Derek
Twitter: @Derek712

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