What's this about 4G?

Wireless broadband technology is now in motion to provide higher data rate, wider coverage and improved mobility. We are now at the verge of highs speed mobile internet with nationwide coverage; all made possible by 4G. Let's take a peek at what is already offered and expected from 4G.

What is a 4G Network?

4G is the fourth generation of wireless communications currently being developed for high speed broadband mobile capabilities. It is characterized by higher speed of data transfer and improved quality of sound. Although not yet defined by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), the industry identifies the following as 4G technologies:

What is 4G capable of?

The 4G technology is being developed to meet QoS (Quality of Service) and rate requirements that involve prioritization of network traffic to ensure good quality of services. These mechanisms are essential to accommodate applications that utilize large bandwidth such as the following:

How fast is 4G Wireless?

The goal set by ITU for data rates of WiMAX and LTE is to achieve 100Mbps when the user is moving with high speed relative to the base station, and 1Gbps for fixed positions.

What are the improvements over 3G?

The difference between the previous generations and 4G is not as clear as 3G had been with 2G. This is because 4G do not have innovative applications, but rather provides improved on-demand high quality video and audio services. The improvement over 3G is marked with high quality, high data rates and high data transfer. Compare the two generation's features below:

3G

(DSL Speeds)

Max Speed up to 3.1Mbps

All 2G and 2.5G Features plus:
  • Real-time location-based services
  • Full motion video
  • Streaming music
  • 3D gaming
  • Faster Web browsing

4G

(Wired Network Speeds)

Max Speed up to 100+Mbps

All 3G Features plus:
  • On-demand video
  • Video conferencing
  • High quality streaming video
  • High quality Voice-over-IP (VoIP)
  • Added security features

What types of devices use 4G Networks?

The industry moves towards expansion of the number of 4G compatible devices. It is set to find its way to tens of different mobile devices not restricted to 4G phones or laptops. There are published specifications for the development of following gadgets aimed to add 4G connectivity.

The trend is to provide wireless internet access to every portable device that could supply and incorporate the 4G embedded modules. The 4G technology could not only provide internet broadband connectivity but also a high level of security that is beneficial to devices that incorporate financial transactions such as vending machines and billing devices.

What companies offer 4G Wireless in the USA and Canada?

The following are the companies, 4G cellular phone carriers and manufacturers, currently deploying or are planning to deploy 4G networks. The 4G cities or states indicated in the parenthesis are where the carriers are implementing the network to increase 4G availability.

Country Companies
USA
  • Blue Communications LLC (Michigan)
  • Conxx
  • AT&T 4G
  • Alascom (Alaska: Anchorage and Jeneau)
  • DigitalBridge Communications (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Indiana, South Dakota and Virginia)
  • MetroBridge Networks (Arizona, Greater Seattle )
  • Nth Air (California and Nevada)
  • Sprint
  • Clearwire (Northwestern US)
  • Cox Communications
  • MetroPCS
  • NextWave Wireless
  • NextPhase Wireless (Atlanta, California)
  • Xanadoo (Midwest)
  • Open Range Communications
  • Conterra (Columbia, Charlotte, North Carolina and South Carolina)
  • RazzoLink (Monterey and California)
  • Rapid Systems (Tampa Bay Metroo Area)
  • Zing Networks (Greater Metro Detroit Area)
  • Sling Broadband (Greater Miami)
  • T-Mobile
  • Towerstream (Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Providence, San Francisco and Seattle)
  • Rainbow Broadband (New York City)
  • Vodafone
  • Verizon
Canada
  • Bell Canada
  • MetroBridge Networks
  • Sogetel
  • Primus Canada
  • Mipps Inc.
  • Nortel
  • Picanoc.net
  • Rogers Wireless (Vancouver)
  • Telus
  • MDS Wireless
  • Mipps Inc.
  • Xplornet Internet Services

How much is the cost for using these 4G networks?

WiMAX costs start from $29 a month for residential and $300 for business plans. While LTE networks have not been commercially deployed yet, it is predicted to have lower cost per bit since it does not need to lay new infrastructure like WiMAX did.

Does Japan have 4G Wireless Networks?

Yes. Japan does have 4G wireless networks, but most of it is not commercially deployed yet. Five companies, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, SoftBank, eMobile and UQ Communications are now working towards the widespread of 4G networks. WiMAX first commercial deployment in Japan had just started in July 2009, following the 5 month trial period.

How do they compare to the US Networks?

In terms of deployment, the US have been doing a better job than Japan. WiMAX have been deployed in late 2008 in the US, and mid 2009 in Japan. Likewise, the commercial deployments for LTE in Japan are expected to be 4 years later than in US. However, the Japanese providers seem to give the consumers a better chance to adjust to the technology by giving free trials and plans with no commitment. Moreover, best speed results come from the Japanese technological demos, and it seems like they are well equipped in preparation of the widespread of 4G.