Debunking the myths behind 4G


LATELY it’s all been about the new 4th generation of communication technology. But what does that actually mean? How easy is it for us to actually use it?

We all spend time waiting for things to load on our mobiles or tablets, and it’s frustrating! We constantly go on about how the 3G is slow, as we frantically try to send that next tweet or watch the latest video on YouTube. But with 4G that is all set to change…

The successor to 3G is described as the ‘ultra-broadband’ network, offering vastly faster speeds and much quicker loading times. Now we have heard this before; when 3G was first released we were promised those fast speeds then, so what’s different now? What makes 4G… well, 4G?

The main requirement for a network to be 4G is its speed – there are certain levels it has to be for it to be classified as a real 4G network, so don’t be fooled! 4G for stationary and pedestrian users are to have a peak speed of 1Gbit/s (wow!), while more mobile users, like people on trains, should have a peak speed of 100Mbit/s.

Now this may sound a bit techy, but those are much faster speeds than what we are used to under the old 3G networks which are sometimes painfully slow. 4G looks to be up to 10 times faster than what we are used to with the current 3G, meaning that everything from surfing the web, downloading videos to app capabilities will all be much faster, and still all on the go. To put things in another way: take a music album that takes nigh on 20 minutes to fully download over a 3G network using a phone. Under 4G, that download time is cut to a little over 3 minutes. A vast improvement!

Now in the UK, we were first met with the phenomenon of 4G when Orange and T-Mobile merged to form EE (Everything, Everywhere) and launched the UK’s first 4G network. This has now been recently followed by Vodafone 4G and O2 4G, showing that the UK is finally trying to catch up with the US. It also means there are a lot more options out there for phones with 4G capabilities and tariffs.

The EE network has vastly expanded since its start last year and is still set to cover near on 99% of the country. This will greatly improve people’s ability to access the web, with 3G networks struggling with the vast demand from the population as more and more apps, gadgets and videos get released.
So far, people have been happy with the vast improvement in speed and the growing ability to access the network.

The question is, once everyone makes the shift to 4G, will the same plague that happened to 3G occur again? Will it be slowed down by the sheer volume of traffic? Despite promises to the contrary, it still remains to be seen. But maybe, just maybe – this time with 4G, we can say goodbye to those exasperating loading times as we step into the next generation of mobile networking technology.