What’s 4G Mobile Technology?
In telecommunications, 4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone devices communications standards. It is a successor of the third generation (3G) standards. A 4G system provides mobile ultra-broadband Internet access, for example to laptops with USB wireless modems, to smartphones, and to other mobile devices. Conceivable applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing and 3D television. 4G mobile technology is the name given to the next generation of mobile devices such as mobile phones. It became available from at least one provider in several parts of the US in 2009. There is not yet an agreed industry standard for what constitutes 4G mobile, so for now it is merely a marketing term.
The use of G, standing for generation, in mobile technology covers the major advances of the past 20-30 years. 1G technology involved the first widely available mobile phones. 2G technology, which began in the early 1990s, switched to a digital format and introduced text messaging. 3G technology improved the efficiency of how data is carried, making it possible to carry enhanced information services such as websites in their original format. The latest iPhone is the best known example of 3G technology. Interestingly enough, 4G mobile is not yet established as an agreed set of standards, so its features are currently simply goals rather than requirements. As well as drastically increasing data transfer speeds, 4G mobile should use enhanced security measures. Another goal is to reduce blips in transmission when a device moves between areas covered by different networks. 4G mobile networks should also use a network based on the IP address system used for the internet.
Within the United States, there are two major systems using 4G mobile technology. One is known as WiMax and is backed by Clearwire, a firm whose majority owner is Sprint Nextel. It began testing services in Baltimore in 2008 and was set to expand this into major new markets in 2009. Sprint intended to have 80 cities covered by the end of 2010.
The rival system, Long Term Evolution or LTE, is backed mainly by Verizon. It was expected to be ready for testing in 2010 but not available for widespread use until 2012. LTE’s backers hoped to overcome this disadvantage by offering faster speeds and producing cheaper equipment. Unlike previous generations of mobile technology, 4G mobile will be widely used for internet access on computers as well as carrying cell phone communications. Customers in areas which have strong 4G coverage will be able to use it for a home broadband connection which doesn’t require any cabling to their household. It can also be used for accessing the internet on the move without having to be in a wireless hotspot such as those offered by some coffee shops, airports and libraries.