For average consumers, ’3G’ and ’4G’ are two of the most mysterious terms in the mobile technologydictionary, but they’re used relentlessly to sell phones and tablets. If you’re shopping for a new phone, the answer isn’t clear-cut, and you shouldn’t always go for the higher number. Our primer will help explain which technology to pick.
3G vs. 4G: What Are They?
First things first, the “G” stands for a generation of mobile technology, installed in phones and on cellular networks. Each “G” generally requires you to get a new phone, and for networks to make expensive upgrades. The first two were analog cell phones (1G) and digital phones (2G). Then it got complicated.
Third-generation mobile networks, or 3G, came to the U.S. in 2003. With minimum consistent Internet speeds of 144Kbps, they were supposed to bring “mobile broadband.” There are now so many varieties of 3G, though, that a “3G” connection can get you Internet speeds anywhere from 400Kbps to more than ten times that.
New generations usually bring new base technologies, more network capacity for more data per user, and the potential for better voice quality, too.
4G phones are supposed to be even faster, but that’s not always the case. There are so many technologies called “4G,” and so many ways to implement them, that the term is almost meaningless. The International Telecommunications Union, a standards body, tried to issue requirements to call a network 4G but they were ignored by carriers, and eventually the ITU backed down. 4G technologies include HSPA+ 21/42, WiMAX, and LTE (although some consider LTE the only true 4G of that bunch, and some people say none of them are fast enough to qualify.)
Via: 4G Internet