Linked by David Adams on Tue 12th Jul 2011 17:42 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless A recent Retrevo Gadgetology survey suggests that users are unclear on what exactly 4G means, don't know whether their current mobile service is 4G or not, and even if they do know, are unsure of the benefit. It also seems that mobile device owners' loyalty to their chosen platform is more important to them than higher network speeds.
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Do I Need 4G?
by jweinraub on Tue 12th Jul 2011 18:45 UTC
jweinraub
Member since:
2009-06-22

One word. No.
But, that being said, once it is more adopted and there is a concrete definition of what 4G exactly is, since marketing departments like to think HSPA+ is 4G while engineers will say it is LTE, just so they can peddle 4G products now, is adding to the said confusion.

Five years ago, if you proposed the same question regarding 3G I would had said no then too, but then I did not have a smart phone.

Now, there is tons of free wifi hotspots where I can get broadband speeds in most areas I travel. If I am in an area where I don't have access to wifi, 3G usually suffices. Will 4G make my life that much better? Perhaps. But for now 3G or 3.5G will be enough until say video on demand offers HD quality OTA where the bandwidth of 4G is needed. And data capping is certainly going to make having 4G rather moot anyway.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by A.H.
by A.H. on Tue 12th Jul 2011 19:17 UTC
A.H.
Member since:
2005-11-11

"34% of iPhone owners mistakenly think they already have 4G"

What a surprise.

Reply Score: 10

RE: Comment by A.H.
by WorknMan on Tue 12th Jul 2011 19:41 UTC in reply to "Comment by A.H."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

"34% of iPhone owners mistakenly think they already have 4G"

What a surprise.


Well, I'm an Android user, with a rooted phone and a custom ROM installed, and even I'm not sure what 4g REALLY is. All I know is that if a carrier advertises 4g, it's probably going to be faster than 3g, and will most likely drain the battery like a motherf**ker.

Basically, if it says 4g, that means faster than 3g. For non-geeks, is there really any reason to give a shit about the specifics? I'll probably look and see what the average data speeds are in my area for each carrier, but other than that, I don't give a ding dong didley about acronyms.

People that argue about the technical definition of 4g are probably the ones that get their panties in a wad when you don't put 'GNU/' in front of Linux. Honestly, some people need to just go outside ....

Edited 2011-07-12 19:43 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by A.H.
by Neolander on Tue 12th Jul 2011 19:45 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by A.H."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Well, if 4G provided some functional advantages over 3G to the user (like 3G does over 2G, by allowing the internet connection to run in parallel with standard voice/text services), the name would make sense. Otherwise, I agree that it's a bit of 3G++ : the protocol/pipe changes again, so what ?

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by A.H.
by Morgan on Wed 13th Jul 2011 01:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by A.H."
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Well, if 4G provided some functional advantages over 3G to the user (like 3G does over 2G, by allowing the internet connection to run in parallel with standard voice/text services), the name would make sense.



Except that not even all 3G services allow this. On Verizon's CDMA network, you can achieve what they call "3G speed" but the technology still doesn't allow for simultaneous voice and data. Verizon is really big in my area, and many of my friends and coworkers who have it are often frustrated by this, especially since Verizon isn't up front about it. They see me on my T-Mobile phone, or other friends on their AT&T smartphones, browsing while chatting via headset, and it blows their mind.

Speaking of T-Mobile, they are quite guilty of 3G/4G confusion tactics. This year all the phone-based data plans were renamed to "4G Data", even for 3G and EDGE devices. This is likely to make some users think they have a 4G device when they don't. Also, the only improvement I noticed when going from a 3G phone (Moto Cliq) to a 4G phone (MyTouch 4G) was a huge improvement in latency. On the Cliq I was lucky to get 1000ms pings no matter the server; on the MT4G I get a consistent 100ms or faster. As for download/upload rates, I haven't noticed a bit of difference. At home I get 2-3Mbps on both phones consistently, and at work it's ~700Kbps on both. Interestingly, when my MT4G drops to an EDGE or GPRS-only connection (rare, but it happens) I end up with the horrible lag I was getting on the Cliq.

Interestingly, for the few months I had a Nokia N900 I was getting about 7Mbps at home and nearly 2Mbps at work, until one day my speeds inexplicably dropped to EDGE and stayed there for two months straight. I called T-Mobile and they claimed they made no changes to my account and assured me I was nowhere near the data cap. They claimed it must be something wrong with the phone, and since they never officially supported the N900 they said I was on my own. I ended up selling the phone since it was useless as an internet device, and the guy I sold it to has not complained yet (he's in Colorado, I'm in Georgia).

So, count me in the crowd that is greatly underwhelmed by the move to "4G" by my carrier.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by A.H.
by coreyography on Thu 14th Jul 2011 00:07 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by A.H."
coreyography Member since:
2009-03-06

Yeah, it's funny how Verizon ended up being handicapped for choosing what was arguably the superior network in the first place (CDMA). CDMA can carry 3G data, GSM can't, so AT&T having to switch to a CDMA modulation scheme to carry data and thus require an additional radio in their 3G phones ended up being a minor coup for them. It's sure as hell not enough to get me to switch to AT&T ;)

But I won't be rushing to LTE (whatever G it really is) any time soon. It's only projected to be in some major cities (and a handful of less-major ones) by year end, and though I'm grandfathered with my current plan and don't have a cap yet, I'm sure if I started enjoying my LTE too much I'd get throttled. Those on new plans would hit the cap so fast if they're getting the most out of that LTE that I can't possibly see how it would be worth the money and cost of a new phone. That tiny browser, and Google Maps, and the other apps I use are fast enough on 3G.

Besides, I have my phone and its custom (Android) ROM just the way I like it. Need to enjoy that for awhile.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Comment by A.H.
by zima on Fri 15th Jul 2011 00:47 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by A.H."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Don't push this "CDMA confusion" of sorts (itself resulting mostly, I guess, from how one camp couldn't come with anything better than using, as part of some of their consumer brands, a name of basic radio method) even further...

NVM how it's like saying, basically, "notably younger technology uses more complex, more efficient on the wireless part (with some costs elsewhere) radio method" ...GSM camp also uses it (in the form of "3G"/UMTS/WCDMA), and actually to cram a lot more into the same chunk of the frequency (HSDPA, HSPA+). "GSM" ~= 3GPP for all practical intents and purposes (vs. 3GPP2 camp); it isn't a "switch" but a natural evolution.

BTW, EDGE (TDMA, what you strictly describe as "GSM", what can very much carry data and is indeed most likely still used by majority of world users of mobile data) is included in the definition of "3G"... (and its current revision is actually faster than any "pure" 3G variants at the time of their introduction)

Arguably and... demonstrably, GSM was a far superior choice. There's a reason why it was chosen by vast majority of the mobile world; why it serves well.

Edited 2011-07-15 01:01 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by A.H.
by phoenix on Tue 12th Jul 2011 21:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by A.H."
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

A couple of months ago, HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) which includes HSDPA and HSUPA (Download / Upload) was advertised by everyone as 3G. Which is correct.

Now, every wireless carrier that supports HSPA is advertising it as 4G. At least up here in Canada; should be the same down South. Which is false advertising.

And, all those carriers that support LTE or WiMAX are also advertising those as 4G. Which is just confusing everyone.

What's worse is that Rogers came out publically at the beginning of the year stating they would not call their HSPA network 4G, reserving that for their LTE rollout this summer. Thus, differentiating themselves from Telus and Bell that relabelled their HSPA networks as 4G.

Then, last month, they declared their HSPA network would henceforth be labelled 4G.

Last year, when I bought the LG Eve for my wife, it was a 3G phone, supporting 7 Mbps HSDPA. Last month, it was "upgraded" to 4G with a simple announcement on the Rogers Redboard site.

Is it really any surprise that people don't know whether they have a 4G-capable phone or not, when everyone's 3G (HSPA) phone has magically been "upgraded" to 4G? And everyone's new 4G (LTE) phone has been magically "downgraded" to 4G?

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by A.H.
by sc3252 on Tue 12th Jul 2011 21:46 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by A.H."
sc3252 Member since:
2005-09-06

You would think they would at least call HSPA+ 4g and not plain Jane HSPA... Anyways the real benefit of LTE is the way better latency, like 90-140ms compared to 300ms+. Heck you can play games on 90-140, not so much on 300.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by A.H.
by zima on Sun 17th Jul 2011 23:22 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by A.H."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Most online players, games, probably don't mind the 3G latency. Lower one is preferable for fairly small subset; basically, mostly a part of the "twitch-level pointing at things" kind.

I know Diablo II worked decently even on EDGE. The online PC game, WoW, also shouldn't have much of an issue (as well as most MMOs, or the dominating online category of fb / flash games)

Reply Score: 1

Excellent response!
by wocowboy on Wed 13th Jul 2011 09:11 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by A.H."
wocowboy Member since:
2006-06-01

That was just about the best comment I have seen on this site in AGES! You are exactly right. I might add the various little groups that find aspects of software programs that are not "free and open source" enough to suit them, as has been debated ad nauseum on here over the years.

As regards EDGE/3G/4G/LTE, there isn't enough of whatever technology they are trying to pass off as "4G/LTE/HSUPA+ whatever" right now to make any difference to any customer. It's only available in a few very tiny areas of the U.S. in major metropolitan areas, surrounded then by 3G in the suburbs and towns over 75,000 population, leaving the vast rest of the country served by EDGE coverage if that area has coverage at all. The cellphone companies have never completed installation of ANY "G" system before moving on to the next big thing, and it does not look like this will be any different. You have to drill way down deep in any carrier's coverage maps to even find their 4G coverage.

You can't even see the 4G coverage until you drill down deep in any carrier's coverage maps, so I say again, it really DOES NOT matter right not.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by A.H.
by ichi on Wed 13th Jul 2011 10:13 UTC in reply to "Comment by A.H."
ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

"34% of iPhone owners mistakenly think they already have 4G"

What a surprise.


Certainly not surprising although not because of a cheap shot at Apple customers' knowledge (does the average person know what the hell is 2/3/4G anyway?) but because of Apple's branding.

If you buy an "iPhone 3G" which happens to have 3G, it's not unreasonable (for the average user who doesn't know or even care about what 3G actually is) to expect the "iPhone 4" to be 4G.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by A.H.
by zima on Wed 13th Jul 2011 15:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by A.H."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

I wonder what are the perceptions in Eastern Asia... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetraphobia

"iPhone Death"?

Edited 2011-07-13 15:31 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by A.H.
by graig on Fri 15th Jul 2011 04:12 UTC in reply to "Comment by A.H."
graig Member since:
2010-09-18

"34% of iPhone owners mistakenly think they already have 4G"

What a surprise.


really? i mean, come on people it says 3g right at the top of the iphone when it's in 3g mode.

Reply Score: 1

Latency
by Neolander on Tue 12th Jul 2011 19:18 UTC
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

+1 for the latency problem.

It takes approximately the same insane time to establish a 2G and 3G network connection, the good side of 3G being that you don't lose that connection when a text comes in. Good 3G connectivity is relatively hard to find, even EDGE is not quite everywhere. So frankly, I couldn't care less about 4G coming to 1% of my country which will probably not be the one I live in ;)

Edited 2011-07-12 19:21 UTC

Reply Score: 2

LTE Reduced Latency
by asupcb on Tue 12th Jul 2011 20:03 UTC
asupcb
Member since:
2005-11-10

I believe that part of the LTE standard that is supposed to make it superior to 3G technologies is significantly reduced latency (3G = 50ms or more and LTE = 30ms or less down to 5ms for small packets), in addition to the speed benefits. Other benefits include an IP-based layout and architecture that should make it cheaper to build out and operate over the long run.

You can find out more here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3GPP_Long_Term_Evolution

Reply Score: 2

RE: LTE Reduced Latency
by zima on Sun 17th Jul 2011 23:57 UTC in reply to "LTE Reduced Latency"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

IP-based networks show up also within the "3G" scope, I believe. IIRC that's the layout and architecture of one young "3G" network (Huawei-supplied) at my place. A network which unfortunately jumped on the "HSPA+ = 4G" bandwagon ...but which, coincidentally, is also a network with the best coverage of high speed services, and most aggressive expansion (and probably most easily upgradable to LTE)

Reply Score: 1

skipping it
by benb320 on Tue 12th Jul 2011 20:31 UTC
benb320
Member since:
2010-02-23

I'm waiting for 10g

Reply Score: 1

RE: skipping it
by Piranha on Tue 12th Jul 2011 20:38 UTC in reply to "skipping it"
Piranha Member since:
2008-06-24

Oracle already has that

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: skipping it
by phoenix on Tue 12th Jul 2011 21:35 UTC in reply to "RE: skipping it"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

They even go to 11!!

Reply Score: 2

Comment by _txf_
by _txf_ on Tue 12th Jul 2011 21:18 UTC
_txf_
Member since:
2008-03-17

No big surprise that a large percentage of iphone users are confused and uninformed /troll

But on the question of general 4g confusion, I would say that the fault lies in the operators for wildly diverging from 4g (the technology).

Frankly I prefer the way it is generally being done in europe. We are getting this stuff later but at least we know what we are getting.

NOTE: I also fail to see what is so useful about 4g; Wireless networking is so expensive that I can easily see someone mistakenly bankrupting themselves....

Edited 2011-07-12 21:23 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by _txf_
by steogede2 on Tue 12th Jul 2011 22:15 UTC in reply to "Comment by _txf_"
steogede2 Member since:
2007-08-17

NOTE: I also fail to see what is so useful about 4g; Wireless networking is so expensive that I can easily see someone mistakenly bankrupting themselves....


Ditto that. Faster connection will just mean you use your allowance quicker and run your bill up higher. The current mobile data charging is extortionate (in the UK atleast) - e.g. out of allowance data usage can be 200x the cost (i.e. £5 for upto 1GB then £1/MB out of allowance).

Hopefully the increased capacity of 4G networks will result in lower costs per MB. But even if it does, I doubt that the telcos will stop selling by confusion.

Edited 2011-07-12 22:18 UTC

Reply Score: 1

It's MP4 all over again!
by reduz on Wed 13th Jul 2011 00:00 UTC
reduz
Member since:
2006-02-25

i remember when the market was full of MP4 players, then MP5, MP6..

Reply Score: 1

Love WiMAX
by Hypnos on Wed 13th Jul 2011 02:27 UTC
Hypnos
Member since:
2008-11-19

I get looks of jealousy when I connect to Clear after my flight gets canceled -- way faster than airport WiFi, and no data plan needed. Just $10 for a one-day pass, a great way to make sitting at the airport productive.

WiMAX covers 90% of Japan's population, and South Korea is nearly there. Great for my frequent travels there.

It's technically not 4G, but is vastly superior to buying a data plan from a cellphone carrier where I live and in each country I visit.

Reply Score: 0

Comment by Tractor
by Tractor on Wed 13th Jul 2011 08:21 UTC
Tractor
Member since:
2006-08-18

No, 3G is not good enough.
I always have this sensation to be back to RTC modem era. To be fair, it's slightly better than that on all fronts, but only slightly.
I want a wireless experience equivalent to first generation WiFi. And then i would "yes, it's good enough".

Reply Score: 0

4G?!?
by Ruahine on Wed 13th Jul 2011 08:37 UTC
Ruahine
Member since:
2005-07-07

4G isn't something I'd even given any thought to. I just got a text the other day from my cellphone network telling me I have one year to get a new cellphone before they shut down the CDMA network and my current phone stops working.

Reply Score: 1

Florin.Crisan
Member since:
2008-04-21

... outside the major cities in Central Europe, you are stuck with GPRS/EDGE....

Reply Score: 1

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

"Central Europe" is a too broad description to use (for most of the accepted meanings: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Europe ), even two years ago: http://www.gsmworld.com/roaming/GSM_EuropePoster2009A.pdf

In the meantime, large swaths of the grey areas certainly improved; for example: http://internet.play.pl/maps/map (click "Play Online - internet mobilny"; too bad this network jumped onto the "HSPA+ = 4G" bandwagon; at least what they have is good, and most of other networks aren't too far behind), or http://www.t-mobile.cz/web/cz/residential/internet/mapa-pokryti (not so nice in practice, but still very visibly better than 2+ years ago; plus it's a weird place, 1/4th of the population lives in the capital area ;p ). So I suspect it's generally much better in our region than you portray.

That, or my 20k city (with good 3G coverage from almost all major networks, 50+ km from the nearest agglomeration of note) suddenly became "major"...

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Kroc
by Kroc on Wed 13th Jul 2011 10:07 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

ITT first world problems.

Reply Score: 1

Data usage caps
by AnythingButVista on Wed 13th Jul 2011 15:00 UTC
AnythingButVista
Member since:
2008-08-27

Stupid data caps are what truly impede 4G adoption. What's the point of me getting a smartphone or mobile data device that can download at 42 mbps if I'm still stuck with a 2GB monthly data usage cap? Why would I pay just for the privilege of exceeding my monthly usage quota six times faster than with a 7 mbps device?

Eventually everybody will have 4G devices - when 3G devices are no longer made or made just for "emerging markets" but by then we'll be 4G users not by choice.

Reply Score: 1

The difference
by wri7913 on Wed 13th Jul 2011 15:29 UTC
wri7913
Member since:
2011-07-13

Between 3g and 4g speeds can be likened to 56k vs T1.

On smartphones you can test your download speeds for 3G and 4G with and app called speedtest.net. It can be downloaded in market or app store.

On my HTC Evo phone I can get 1 - 2 mbps download speeds with upload speed of .7mbps on the Sprint 4g Network

3G speeds tend to be about .7mbps both ways on a good day.

CLEAR Wimax is also 4G and I use it on my laptop from time to time. It has download speed of 4mbps with upload speeds of .7mbps

Even in my area with widespread 4G coverage it is difficult to pick up 4G on cell phone unless you are standing outside. I think that has more to do with the receptors in the cell phone. My laptop with CLEAR WIMAX can pick up signals just fine. I tend to turn off 4g and stick with 3g due to the battery issue (drains much faster on 4g) The only real use I find for 4G is when using my VRS Software (Video Relay Software or as you would know it a facetime type app).

Reply Score: 1

In an ideal world
by bouhko on Wed 13th Jul 2011 18:21 UTC
bouhko
Member since:
2010-06-24

In an ideal world, you would have one 4G subscription and use it with your phone as well as with your laptop and a lot of people could entirely drop their DSL/cable subscription. So in this world, 4G would be useful, because you would just have internet on all your devices with a single provider, single contract, single fee.

Unfortunately, I don't think this is going to happen anytime soon with all the data caps and other traffic inspection trends around.

In the meantime, I don't need 4G for my phone. I use 3G to check my mail and check some websites while in the train, and 3G works great for that. For all the rest, I have my laptop.

Reply Score: 1

RE: In an ideal world
by Alfman on Wed 13th Jul 2011 19:21 UTC in reply to "In an ideal world"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

bouhko,

"In an ideal world, you would have one 4G subscription and use it with your phone as well as with your laptop and a lot of people could entirely drop their DSL/cable subscription."

It is very difficult to scale radio communications because everyone has to share the same limited spectrum.

Unless there's a femtocell at every house, the cell network simply cannot offer the same level of aggregate bandwidth that we're already using with broadband (whether or not wifi is used at the end).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: In an ideal world
by bouhko on Wed 13th Jul 2011 19:44 UTC in reply to "RE: In an ideal world"
bouhko Member since:
2010-06-24

That's an interesting point I completely overlooked.

I must admit I only have a basic understanding of radio/GSM/other stuff going through the air technologies, do you have pointers to technical articles explaining why the network cannot sustain the same bandwidth ?

Reply Score: 1

RE: In an ideal world
by phoenix on Wed 13th Jul 2011 20:53 UTC in reply to "In an ideal world"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Rogers in Canada has just such a plan, helpfully called the "Data Share Plan". You pay for a single data plan (top is 6 GB/mth), then register each of your devices with the plan. You can add/remove devices at any time, but have to have at least 1 registered at all times.

Devices include phones, tablets, netbooks with 3G/4G built-in, and USB-based 3G/4G sticks.

There's very little that Rogers does right anymore, but this is one of them.

Reply Score: 2

4G
by 3rdalbum on Thu 14th Jul 2011 07:06 UTC
3rdalbum
Member since:
2008-05-26

You think the label "4G" is bad? Well, just wait until a carrier decides to label its network as "4.5G" - then everybody's confusion will be complete.

Reply Score: 2