What is 4G?

Approximately, every 10 years since 1981 dramatic new advancements in mobile communication emerge. 2012 is set to be one of those years…

4G, as the name suggests is the fourth generation of mobile communications and picks up where its predecessor, 3G, leaves off. Boasting speeds of up to 10x faster than that of 3G, 4G’s potential of 100mbps upload and download has the capability of making current landline broadband speeds (at roughly 8mbps) look like dial up internet connections by comparison. Still none the wiser?

Ok, the main difference in the two comes down to data. The 3G network was primarily designed for voice communication, when the 3G network went live smartphones and tablets were still a long way off. As mobile phones have developed into smartphones and tablets have evolved there’s been a continually higher demand for fast data transfers. Therefore the 4G network has been designed with this very thing in mind, meaning things like streaming videos will work better on a 4G device – with less stuttering and a higher resolution , video calling will be available over the mobile network, not just on WiFi, and be quicker with less lag, online gaming, web browsing and music downloads will all benefit too.

That is not all, although data plays a huge part in the step change from 3G to 4G, there are a number of other benefits to businesses as well. Part of the 4G proposal in the UK, Ofcom laid out a set of rules that must be adhered to before 4G can be rolled out. As part of this, one 4G network provider will have to extend coverage to at least 98% of the UK population, bringing high-speed coverage to current “dead-spot” areas.

Mobile phone call security will also be improved using 4G, simply because of how the information will be delivered. All of the calls will be made using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) so everything is transmitted through the internet. While VoIP has been partially adapted by 3G, one of the main aims for 4G is to keep hackers at bay, while keeping service costs down.

You on 4G

At Present

At present, 4G is still far from being rolled out to all suppliers in all countries. North America is currently the only place where some handsets are enabled for 4G. Contrary to marketing strategy from many firms, it is still unavailable in the UK; so money that may have been spent on such modern products will still only be 3G. These systems billed as “4G” could be more accurately called 3.5G or 3.75G, although the plan is for these systems to upgrade to full 4G in the future. One company caught short of this was Apple, whose new iPad had to be rebranded as ‘Cellular’ instead. With the announcement this morning that Ofcom has given permission for Everything Everywhere (owner of mobile phone networks Orange and T-Mobile) to launch 4G services on it’s existing bandwidth we may see 4G in the UK from September 11th (we will keep you updated). BBC article can be found here.

The Future

Considering 4G is unavailable almost everywhere in the world besides America, a fifth generation is merely a speck on the horizon. The standard bodies haven’t starting talking about it although there are many real time articles and reports on its capabilities. It is understood to be implemented in early 2020’s (following the previous 10 year trend). These reports currently sound more like an episode of Star Trek with Vandermonde-subspace frequency division multiplexing, High-altitude stratospheric platform station systems and Wearable devices with A.I. capabilities.


Sony Next Step Concept

Sony Next Step Concept

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