The new generation of mobile connectivity networks is now available on some of the top US cell phone operators.Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon market plans with different technologies and features, but the focus is not on phones but on USB modems.
However, like all recent technology, it is important to understand the real advantages and disadvantages of the current system, and this article will help you, the Baixaki reader, to better choose your system as soon as 4G arrives in Brazil.Being well informed beforehand, after all, is one of the recipes to save money.
What is 4G?
The nickname of the fourth generation of cellular technology (or 4G defined at percomputer.com) – strictly speaking – only exists commercially.The “4G” used by US carriers is actually a name for the WiMAX (used by Sprint), LTE (already available from Verizon and later T-Mobile) and HSPA + (T-Mobile and AT & T ).
This caveat is important because none of the operators met the prerequisites set by the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU).Thanks to the confusion generated by the use of the 4G nomenclature, ITU has been forced to relax the requirements and nowadays these networks already fulfill the minimum required.
Initially, for an operator to announce that it has a 4G network, it is necessary that equipment using the system achieve connection speeds between 100 Mbps (high mobility) and 1 Gbps (short-range antenna).
After the relaxation of ITU requirements – since no operator selling “4G” networks met this requirement – the minimum acceptable speed in the standard is 1 Mbps, with the maximum already achieved around 200 Mbps.On average, carriers announce speeds around 5 Mbps as expected from their 4G networks.
Comparing with 3G
In terms of speed the standard 4G, after the decrease of requirements by the ITU, is not different from the 3G already used in minimum speeds.Both reach 1 Mbps, and 3G rarely exceeds the 2 Mbps mark.
Analyzing the numbers, then, one can conclude that even after lowering the expectation of speed, 4G networks can reach 4 to 100 times faster than the system currently in use.
One name, many technologies
As mentioned earlier, each American carrier announces a different system like 4G.Despite the relatively close performance and the sharing of some characteristics, each of these networks has significant differences.
Long Term Evolution theoretically achieves up to 100 Mbps of download and 50 Mbps of upload and is the technology that will probably have the greatest advancement without the need for large investments.The advanced version of LTE is expected to meet the original requirements of the 4G standard, with 1 Gbps downloads.
Recent LTE-Advanced tests in South Korea achieved very high transmission speeds in the 600 Mbps range.Imagine that the test consisted of broadcasting a 3D HD movie to a screen installed on a bus.The downside of this is that the technology only reaches the Korean public in 2014, and for the rest of the world some time after that.
Another interesting detail about LTE technology is that the system is the first to not differentiate voice from data, making all calls on VoIP. In addition to Verizon, and the future service of AT & T, the cities of Oslo and Stockholm – both in Scandinavian countries – also have LTE networks.
Already used in South Korea under the name of WiBro and in countries like Russia, Belarus and Nicaragua under the WiMAX banner, the system offers transfer peaks of 128 Mbps for download and 56 Mbps for sending data.
HSPA + (T-Mobile)
Despite being only a refinement of the HSPA standard used in 3G networks, the standard is marketed by T-Mobile as 4G.In terms of speed, HSPA + offers up to 56 Mbps download and 22 Mbps upload.
The bad part
While not yet reaching extreme speeds as originally planned for the 4G standard, the high-speed networks that receive this label are already portable versions of the domestic broadband connections.
Especially when compared to the current 3G standard, however, 4G networks also have serious problems.As it is not possible to know – yet – all the negative points of the new technologies, Baixaki now counts those main points that will certainly influence sales and acceptance of 4G.
In the outlet
Battery consumption is one of the most serious problems of 4G handsets.Just as 3G smartphones can not withstand days away from making older technology devices, the new crop of gadgets tends to last even shorter on the battery.
While today’s devices can – with moderate use – spend up to two days without recharging, if 4G cell phones use batteries of the same capacity, the duration of each charge would hardly exceed 6 hours of use.
In the pocket
The shorter battery life of a 4G smartphone required the not very stylish solution manufacturers.The simplest way to solve the charge cycle of the devices was to increase the amount of cells in the battery, thus stretching the operating time.
However, more cells mean more space and more components, and therefore more weight.The 4G handsets available today are less comfortable than 3G phones precisely because of this weight gain.
Another critical limitation of 4G networks is not the fault of the technology itself, but of the way it is being applied by the operators.Almost all companies are occupying very high frequency bands (2500 MHz or more) with the 4G data.
This means that waves carrying the many bits of the pattern can not efficiently penetrate concrete, bricks and other obstacles.In summary, for the signal of your device to be useful at home, operators should invest much more in the installation of antennas.
In the wallet
New technologies are always more expensive.Disregarding promotions and subsidies from carriers, the price of 4G handsets tends to be much higher than those charged for 3G phones.This is mainly due to the need to install antennas and other pieces of infrastructure to solve the problem of network operation mentioned in the previous topic.
Pay to see
With all its qualities and defects, 4G technology is certainly the future of the mobile connection.Sooner or later, the issues mentioned in this article will be resolved – or bypassed – and inevitably everyone will need to migrate from 3G.
As with the switch from analogue to digital phones and the adoption of GSM chips, 4G will also be used by all. We, the users, have only to hope and hope that, when the extreme speeds of 4G networks arrive here in Brazil, the problems that exist today are already overcome.
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