Both WiMax and LTE backers are working on versions of the technology that will support "true" 4G speeds of more than 100 mbps for downloads, but real products using those versions probably won't appear for several years.
The two main technologies are WiMax and Long Term Evolution (LTE). WiMax is a standard developed by the IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; Development of the LTE standard is led by the 3GPP, an industry body for providers that use GSM, the current leading technology for cellular communications. Both WiMax and LTE use advanced antenna technology to improve reception and performance. However, the technologies rely on different types of wireless spectrum.
Yes. The whole idea behind 4G is that it's not just broadband, but mobile broadband.
4G's faster download speeds and better overall data performance will significantly improve the performance of demanding applications such as streaming video, videoconferencing, and networked gaming. You may also be able to replace your home DSL or cable modem service with a 4G service that you can use both at home and on the road.
Yes, unless you're looking for extra-high-speed services for extremely demanding broadband usage. Clearwire's WiMax service already offers faster speeds than the lower-end DSL pl, and it can match some cable modem offerings. For users who want both home and mobile service, WiMax 4G may be a better deal than the combined price of a stationary service and a 3G data plan.
WiMax providers today are offering contracts that advertise download speeds of between 2 megabits per second and 6 mbps, with peak speeds of 10 mbps and more. Verizon, which will launch LTE networks in the United States later this year, is expecting to offer services with download speeds in the 5 mbps to 12 mbps range. Most 3G data systems today deliver speeds of between 400 kilobits per second (that is, 0.4 mbps) and 1.5 mbps.
Yes, sort of. Roaming is supported between different cities covered by the same service, so a Clearwire or Sprint device you buy in Portland should work fine in Las Vegas or Chicago. LTE proponents say that they will support cross-provider roaming, but we'll have to wait a couple years to see whether that works. And while chip vendors have announced silicon that could link to either a WiMax or an LTE network, no as-yet-announced device can accomplish that trick.
Standards bodies have set higher speed goals for what they would like to define as "official" 4G services, performance marks that likely won't be met for another couple years at the earliest. But marketers think that what's available now is a big enough leap to justify the "next-generation" label--and they're the ones who buy the ads.
Not in any current implementation, other than Voice over IP applications like Skype or Vonage. Most early 4G phones will be "hybrid" devices that include a 3G chip to handle voice calls.
4G refers to the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. It is a successor to 3G and 2G standards. The nomenclature of the generations generally refers to a change in the fundamental nature of the service. The first was the move from analogue (1G) to digital (2G) trmission.
This was followed by multi-media support, spread spectrum trmission and at least 200 kbit/s (3G) and now 4G, which refers to all IP packet-switched networks, mobile ultra-broadband (gigabit speed) access and multi-carrier trmission.
Right now, the Clearwire/Sprint pl typically provide true "unlimited" data usage, whereas virtually all 3G cellular pl impose extra charges for downloading more than 5 gigabytes of data per month. Pl from Clearwire and its reseller partners (which include Comcast and Time-Warner Cable) are typically $10 to $20 per month cheaper than the standard $60 per month 3G cellular data plan, too. Verizon has not announced LTE pricing.
As of April 2010, the only 4G phone announced for U.S. markets is Sprint's HTC EVO 4G, which was unveiled in March and is expected to be available by this summer. (Earlier, HTC shipped a WiMax phone for a network in Russia.) Verizon has said that it expects LTE phones to ship by mid-2011.
Clearwire and Sprint sell two versions of a portable Wi-Fi/WiMax router, which uses a link to WiMax on the back end to support a "personal hotspot" capable of broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal that several devices can share. Sprint's forthcoming HTC EVO 4G phone will be able to act as a portable router, too, sharing its WiMax connection with up to eight other devices via Wi-Fi.
In March, MetroPCS announced pl to launch LTE services in Las Vegas before the end of this year, using a dual-mode 3G/LTE phone made by Samsung. T-Mobile is expected to launch LTE services sometime in the future, but it has not specified a timeframe for deployment.
It all depends on when providers decide that your metro area is worthy! Clearwire and Sprint both have interactive maps on their Websites showing where and when services are likely to be available. Verizon is expected to announce its first LTE cities later this summer or early next fall.
No. The 4G networks are designed to run at different frequencies than the ones current cellular services use, so you'll need new radio chips tuned to the 4G frequencies.
T-Mobile USA is in the process of launching a mobile data network based on a more-advanced version of the 3G protocols in use today. Theoretically the network can support speeds of up to 21 mbps, but in tests so far it is only marginally faster than most 3G data services. T-Mobile hopes to have the service available in 100 U.S. cities by the end of 2010.
Since Apple sells the iPhone in the United States under an exclusive contract with AT&T, it has manufactured the phone with chips that connect to AT&T's 3G cellular network. Many people hope that Verizon, which has more-immediate 4G pl for its network than AT&T does, will begin selling a CDMA version of the iPhone later this year.
Smaller providers such as DigitalBridge Communications--which has services in Jackson Hole, Wyoming--already offer mobile WiMax similar to Clearwire's. A company called Open Range Communications has started offering WiMax services in rural Colorado, and it pl to cover more than 500 rural communities over the next several years.