4G is the next generation of cellular mobile communications. It supersedes 3G offering speeds that could reach ten times that of current capabilities
The question that everyone wants to know is: just how fast is 4G? Well, standard 3G connections today offer around 7.2Mbps although in reality most of us won’t experience much more than i-2Mbps. True 4G technology could potentially increase these speeds significantly to beyond 100Mbps, but there are several competing technologies that offer varying pros and cons. Below we take a closer look at the main 4G contenders…
Long Term Evolution (LTF) 3000MBPS
This is the most popular of the technologies currently planned for widespread rollout. It is behind most of the planned strategies in the US and the UK. Scientific theory suggests that there could be a top speed as high as 300Mbps for LTE, although the current speeds being achieved in the US – where some 4G LTE services have gone live – are around the 6-12Mbps mark. While not getting anywhere near the theoretical speeds it does offer a huge uplift in the real-world speed, especially when you consider that this is a mobile service.
This technology, while also offering a bumper speed of around 128Mbps, isn’t particularly popular, with no UK operators as yet planning to use it and only one US carrier – Sprint – adopting it. Sprint has claimed that its real-world speeds will reach the 3-6Mbps mark.
This technology can’t offer as much speed as LTE but has become a popular alternative as the upgrade cost is far cheaper and the implementation is far simpler. HSPA+ has been in use in the US by operator T-Mobile which claims that real-world speeds are around the 1-7Mbps mark and that eventual top-end speeds could reach 21Mbps. In the UK, Three Mobile will be using this technology through a dongle called Huawei E367. Much like the advance to 3G, 4G rollout will be taking place over the next few years. America is already readying its networks with some live now. The UK, however, is behind the times waiting for the two bands of spectrum to be auctioned off by regulatory body Ofcom.