Modern technology is evolving so fast that it can be a bit difficult to keep track of all new developments. Not too long ago we had to get used to the new mobile standard called 3G - a better and faster mobile communications standard than ever before, offering download speed of up to 7.2 Mbps. However, not long ago a new standard was introduced by telecommunication companies worldwide - 4G. So what exactly is 4G and what is the difference between 3G and 4G?
4G stands for the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. Currently there are two types of 4G data networks developed in the USA - WiMax, which is developed by Sprint and its partners, and LTE - an extension of the GSM network used by Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T.
The purpose of the fourth generation network is to dramatically increase transmission speed. Unlike previous networks, it concentrates on data transmission (mobile broadband), rather than voice. That in itself is remarkable because it means the shift from voice-focused mobile networks towards data-focused mobile networks. It also is a potential threat for cable Internet providers because 4G can potentially be just as fast as optical fibre.
The main difference between 3G and 4G is speed. 4G speeds can be up to 10 times faster than 3G, similar to the speed difference between DSL and high-speed cable modem. Average download speed on a 3G network is between 600 Kbps and 1.4 Mbps with peak download speed of up to 7.2 Mbps. On a 4G network the average download speed is 3-6 Mbps with peak download speed of more than 10 Mbps. This speed difference is significant enough for people to completely abandon 3G mobile broadband as soon as there is sufficient 4G network coverage.
Another significant advantage of 4G over 3G is QoS support. QoS (Quality of Service) is a technology that is used by land-based data networks. Basically, QoS makes it possible to vary priority levels for different data streams. For example, VoIP is usually given the highest priority to ensure flawless connection quality. Same with watching online HD videos - they usually get higher priority than other data. The implementation of QoS in 4G networks will enable people to use VoIP applications, such as Skype, on their mobile phones without any loss of quality. It will also enable users to watch high quality online videos straight from their mobile devices.