15 November 2011

What Does 4G Technology Do For Mobile Phones?

A phone call or an SMS text message is still the same in a 4G network. What's the big buzz with 4G?

Starting from 1981, cellular phone or mobile phone technology advances a generation (G) every ten years. 1981 came out with the 1G or 1st Generation network (Analog). In 1992, the 2G came out using digital signals. Around 2001 to 2002, mobile phone networks upgraded to the 3G system which introduced broadband data services to mobile users. 3G data speeds are around 1 to 3 megabits per second (Mbps). Although, actual speeds for 3G has been said to just hit 144 kilobits to 2 megabits.

In 2012, it is expected that most mobile carriers will be switching to 4G technology. Early 4G systems have been introduced with mobile data speeds of around 3 to 5 Mbps. These are the available speed at the low end of the spectrum for 4G. 4G speeds are touted to go up to 100Mbs and over in the long run. The current given speed starts at 3 Mbps to 5 Mbps which is already comparable to cable and DSL broadband internet speeds.

What 4G actually offers is faster data speeds for accessing the internet. Streaming HD quality movies or even playing multiplayer video games can now be possible with a 4G phone.

A 4G system offers digital broadband packet data over an IP (Internet Protocol) network. This is already available but not with mobile phones. Skype and other voice messaging services uses IP networks (Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP). 4G allows the user to be constantly connected to the internet at higher speeds.

This opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of interacting with the internet on a mobile phone. This is already being done with social media such as Facebook and Twitter updates. But with the given speed of 4G, it can be much more.

Video: 4G Systems (Note: Watch other video below for an in-depth explanation)

The two main technologies associated with 4G is LTE (Long Term Evolution) and Mobile WIMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access). Although both can give peak speeds of 100Mbps and up to 1 Gbps (gigabits per second), experts are saying that this may be available in five to seven years but not now.

HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) and EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) technologies are considered not 4G but more 3.5G or 3.9G. The Apple iPhone 3G uses EDGE technology and HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) for the later models.

Of course, without the necessary hardware, 4G wouldn't be as exciting. Mobile phones also would have to catch up with the technology. Advances in industrial materials such as graphene, OLED and the use of nanotechnology will maximize the benefits of 4G.

Video: Great Explanation on Different Mobile Systems from 1G to 4G
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