What is 4G & How did we get there??? And do you really need it?

Once we humans established a working cellular network...we started pulling some G's....These G's later, with time, defined how mobile internet will be shaped for the future. Lets take a look at the brief history on these G's


1) 1st Generation 


The first generation of mobile technology, or "1G", during the 80's was an 'Analog' Telecommunications systems. It was rudimentary and only allowed Telephony and 'Page' messaging. This was a time when Pagers were cool and cellphones were as huge as a cordless phone. Although rudimentary internet could have been possible as the calculated speed (if deployed, but was never deployed publicly) was about 14.4kbps!!!


'1G' offered us 'circuit-switch' technology, Meaning a connection was established between user to user before the 'voice' was sent over. And that was just about it.....


2) 2nd Generation:
The second generation, or 2G, is where modern mobile technology really took off...'The Digital Age' for mobiles began with 2G. It offered, efficient digital management of callsbetter roaming.


It even offered compressing your voice digitally so that it was easy to transmit voice as 'Data' (not as 'Data' over the internet) over the network. ""BUT"" in all senses it still was only a DIGITAL version of 1G network.....

- 2 and a half G?
2.5G is where data services really came about. Even though internet had just begun its widespread capture, 2G network offered really basic of all basic internet services compared to todays tech, called GPRS. It offered about a MAX SPEED of 144kbpsThis was circuit-switched and Packet switched as well. Packet switched network is where data is broken up into many equal pieces that is then routed to the receiver over an open network, meaning the packets could arrive at destination through different routes....This was the genius of the IP based networking.

3) 3rd Generation:
3G, now this is where things got really interesting...It offered enough speeds for an actual seamless internet experience, which was able to support HTML pages, better internet services. Streaming services. etc etc. It allowed simultaneous voice and data. Internet on this network could let you view pages exactly as you would on your Computer. It offered speeds of 384kbps (for 'True 3G speeds') and upwards. Funny thing is the 3rd Gen offered alot of G's....


These were 3.5G with HSUPA and HSPA+ service speeds from 1.4 Mbps upto 5.8Mbps3.75G with speeds from 1.8 upto 14Mbps. And lastly the 3.9G, also dubbed and 'Marketed' as '4G' by many carriers, and is actually the orginal 4G LTE project, with 170Mbps upload, and 320Mbps download speeds.

4) What is 4G then? 

Well loosely, 4G is the 4th Generation of Mobile technology and 'Internet mobile services'. The regulatory boards for the 4G standard had demanded a network infrastructure that could support 100Mbps speeds at minimum for mobility, and '1 GBPS' for stationary services, like Hotspots. 


Sounds pretty insane right?  Here's next where things go to pot when understanding what actually 4G is and what your Carriers Marketing says....

Does 4G really mean.....4G?

When the regulatory teams first laid out the rules and requirements for 4G, the speeds were unheard of (that was way back in 2008), but regulatory bodies classified something as 4G if they could acheive the said 100Mbpstechnology. Now this is where Carrier marketing misleaded you. HSPA+ is a network technology that was developed under the 3G 'era', and was capable enough for 100mbps sustained speeds. Currently, now that the network infrastructures have improved, HSPA+ is fully deployable. So it is actually a turbocharged version of 3G technology, that may have been called as 4G.

Wait a min, what is LTE then, aren't 4G and LTE the same?


4G LTE or Long Term Evolution is, in many ways, the underlying technology that helps acheive the actual regulation body defined 4G speeds. Though, 4G LTE equipped phones are able to attain 4G speeds but thatdoesnt mean you WILL get those speeds. To Put it simply - If you have a car that can do 300Kmph, that doesn't necessarily mean that you can drive it at those speeds on 40Kmph limited highway. 

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Thats exactly what our problem is, we dont have the super network (the high speed highways) entirely fitted to work with our phones to acheive the insane speeds.

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Confusing, right?

To put mildly- the regulatory bodies have lately classified LTE, the technology that is in pursuit of the 4G speeds,'can' be labelled 'as 4G' if they can acheive a substantial increase over '3G' speeds (hypothetical 3G). This is what the Carriers have taken advantage.

Some of the advanced countries although have begun/ or completed implementing the LTE-Advanced networks to support higher 4G (or 'True-'est'' 4G speeds). INDIA is just beginning to shine...slowly!!!


DO YOU NEED 4G, Should you upgrade to 4G???
As of now, in some indian cities, the Major and Popular Carriers 'HAVE' upgraded (still in its nascent stages in India)the network to 'LTE' and even 'LTE-A', this is something that is the Carriers now say as 'True 4G' or even '4G+' networks. Things really look positive now on, as speeds have definately improved upon. 


Only shortcoming with 4G and Carriers are that, most people don't know that 4G is entirely IP-based (Internet protocol based), Unlike 3G which had to depend on 'Circuit-switching' for a call. 4G uses the internet for voice calls too, this is something carriers cannot come to agree on, they still charge heavy on a per minute basis, whereas if you're a 4G user you ideally shouldn't have to pay that much for using the internet to place calls.  

Although on the very positive side, with 4G you do get a respectable speed jump from 'our' current 3G speeds, and with lucrative options from multiple carriers, you can get the best deal that should you suit you perfectly.


If you're a heavy data user, completely online 24X7, then you should consider upgrading. Else if you're a casual user, with just couple messaging apps, then a 3G connection is more than sufficient. But no matter what, it's better to invest in a 4G capable SIM card, even if you're not actively using the 4G internet. You can still use 3G on a 4G SIM card, but you are future proof if ever you might need to switch to using 4G data.

With increasing complexity of data in a bid to simplify life, it surely is going to require better infrastructure such as 4G...And watch out 5G is out as well....

*Article is provided by Zen_Ro from ZenTalk.  

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