Google Website Translator Gadget

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Get Ready for 4G

Tomorrow, Sprint Nextel will be the first carrier to announce the availability of 4G wireless technology with the release of its EVO. Then in the Fall, Verizon will roll out 4G service in 25 to 30 cities, and you can bet that they’ll market the heck out of that. Much smaller MetroPCS will announce a 4G phone around the same time.

And let us not forget that Apple will announce its iPhone 4 sometime this summer, although it’s unclear if it will be built to run on a 4G network or today’s standard 3G technology.

So prepare yourself for the marketing onslaught that will no doubt be great. You can count on TV, print and online ads to tout the benefits of 4G, as well as marketing efforts targeting you directly every time you receive a bill from your wireless carrier. “If you don’t have 4G, sign up now to see what you’re missing!”

But what exactly are the advantages of 4G over 3G?

First, let’s go back a few years to look at the truly quantum leap between 2G and 3G technologies.

Back in the old days of 2G technology, you could basically use your mobile phone for two primary purposes – making phone calls and sending SMS (text) messages. That seemed to be a pretty useful thing since up to then if you wanted to place a phone call you had to be at your desk using a landline or spend thousands of dollars on a mobile phone built on old military technology.

Then 3G came along at the start of the new millennium, and suddenly phones could do really cool things like real Web browsing, video and music downloads, and take high quality photos. Another advantage of 3G was the high speed of the network and the improved coverage and quality of reception. That is unless you have AT&T or T-Mobile where 3G coverage is only available in the highly populated parts of the country. If you find yourself in upstate New York, or even Napa Valley, forget using your iPhone.

And that brings us to 4G. Basically it’s a new way for mobile phones to access the airwaves designed from the start for the transmission of data rather than simple phone calls. This is accomplished by borrowing some aspects of the latest generation of Wi-Fi, the short-range wireless technology.

What users are likely to see is slightly faster access to data and streaming video that flows a little bit better, no stuttering, and higher resolution. That’s about it. No break through applications as we saw when we moved from 2G to 3G. Oh, one other thing, it’ll cost you more.

And to muddy the marketing waters even more, AT&T and T-Mobile are upgrading their current 3G networks to provide data-transfer speeds that will be actually HIGHER than the 4G networks from Sprint and Verizon.

What’s a customer to do?

Don’t let the marketing hype get to you. Ask yourself what you really need from your mobile or smart phone and how many applications you really use. Are those applications working for you now? If so, you probably don’t need the upgrade. And if you’re an iPhone or AT&T user, the upgrades to the AT&T network will provide you with more than enough power.

I’m already waiting with bated breath for 4.5G.

No comments:

Post a Comment