With the advent of each new innovation in mobile phones rumors create high expectations running up to the first release of the new technology. Sometimes this hype builds a promise of a new era in cellular technology which turns out to be a false hope. So will this be the case with the new 4G networks? Will the new improvements herald a golden age of mobile technology, or will they prove to be just another fad that does not live up to the hoped for increase in service? To see what the future may hold we need to look at the underlying concept of 4G and why it contains so much promise.
In fact, the term 4G is a shortening of the title “fourth generation standard.” Therefore, 4G networks are merely the next generation of mobile communications and not a magical reinvention of mobile technology. The new standard will build on the 3G platform with improvements and additions that should create a better experience for mobile users. This may seem like the usual story of add-on’s and bug fixes that merely streamline the existing technology. The 4G standard, however, includes one major change that will not be noticeable to the general user but marks a significant switch from the way mobile networks have operated in the past.
Current mobile networks work on radio frequencies for voice transmissions. A series of overlapping cellular areas allows large coverage for voice communications over various ranges but the technology is the same as that used since broadcast radio began in the early 1900 s and is severely limited in bandwidth. As transmissions are shared, with only one connection able to use a single frequency at any one time, and, with modern smart-phones also taking part of the available bandwidth for downloads and Internet data, this means service can be patchy a lot of the time and networks can lose connection completely at peak times.
The big difference with 4G networks is that they will use VoIP for voice communications, utilizing wireless networks rather than radio waves. VoIP works by turning the phone transmission into a data stream that can be passed over the Internet just like all the other data packages, irrespective of content. This means there is a much greater amount of bandwidth for voice transmissions as well as data downloads. VoIP can also use switching technology so more than one connection can be made simultaneously. The technology is already used over the Internet by services such as Skype so there is no doubt about the viability of the concept. In essence this should mean that service outages are much lower as the networks are less likely to become clogged, except on rare occasions when peak usage is extremely high.
For the majority of users 4G is merely the latest buzzword and the new standard will draw excitement because it is the “in thing.” General users are unlikely to have much interest in what is happening to the networks that makes 4G such an exciting prospect. However, it is a massive change in the way mobile networks operate and, once 4G is in regular use, people should notice an enormous difference in service, download times and reception. To the everyday user this will probably be an insignificant fact but anyone with a technical interest will see 4G as a revolutionary idea. 4G may not be the passage to a brave new world that some people would like it to be but it could be the coming of age of the smart-phone. Perhaps the flawless user experience the public have always wanted from their mobile network could be just around the corner.
Laura has been a fan of 3G technology for a long time but now 4G is available she is looking for a smart phone that is 4G compatible.