Is 4G The Answer To 3G’s Flaws?

Due to the inability of 3G devices to handle iPhone traffics, not to mention Google Android issues, many believed that a 4G network will iron out all these flaws. Sprint and other mobile manufacturers are now making advertisements and announcing that they will soon release 4G devices.

As of today, there are no 4G phones existing even in the hidden shelves of the manufacturers. Many are waiting for the release of 4G, because they believe that this will solve 3G glitches. Unfortunately, the current flaws like spectrum drought and device portability issues will not be resolved even with the creation of 4G.

Truth about 4G

Even though 4G does not yet exist, there are already advertisements claiming what their 4G device can offer. Sprint, for example, together with its partner Clearwire is deploying information to the public but the truth is they are only introducing WiMax high-speed wireless transmission of data and not 4G. Some other mobile carriers are also blabbing about 4G based on 3G technologies having Long Term Evolution networks and HSPA which are not yet even half way finished.

According to Gartner’s mobile analyst Phil Redman, the international telecommunications bodies started reviewing 4G just recently. Hence, it is correct to assume that until today the term 4G has no significance. Mobile carriers are just making stories to make consumers think that 4G is already in the making.

Phil Redman also said that as of now 4G’s attributes can only be theoretically defined. Such attributes involves 1Gbps in a given location. But this is different from reality, because the rate from which 4G’s processor can work will certainly be much lower – this is a fact for all wireless devices.  Nevertheless, 4G is targeting to be ten times speedier than the present 3G.

4G is not at all related to whichever wireless technology, although it will probably be presented with either LTE or the currently being developed 802.16m WiMax’s standards. Still, Redman supposed that most 4G carriers will choose the LTE route.

Redman also believes that the real 4G device will not be out until 2015 and the fully completed version after a decade. Unfortunately, consumer’s wish for an early 4G network will not be granted.

4G is Not the Answer to Your Problems

Even if 4G exists, it will not solve the shortcomings user’s experience in 3G. Inadequacy of spectrum and device portability problems will remain. Sad to say, 4G is not the solution we all have been waiting for.

The reports of AT&T and other carriers about the use of 3G network being exerted to the utmost level by iPhone users is already making a noise in the United States, what more if this will happen for smart mobile phones, e-book devices and laptop’s with 3G.

The Federal Communications Commission noted that even if carriers strengthen their networks’ capability to sustain excessive use of wireless network, the impending spectrum drought will not be solved. Despite FFC’s warning, there are still manufacturers releasing 3G-capable analog televisions for WiMax and LTE networks. WiMax is already usable in many cities now while LTE will be released in the market in 2011. However, 3G WiMax and LTE should not be confused with the coming 4G versions in the near future.

The constant growth of mobile devices is the main cause of the spectrum shortage. The other is due to the amount of spectrum allocated to each network carrier. Globally, spectrum is being used for several reasons causing four bands of spectrum to constitute the GSM mobile technology. Aside from that, network carriers within a country can employ various bandwidths for the same purpose.

The reason why Google Nexus One can not work with other carriers aside from T-Mobile is due to the difference in spectrums. AT&T, for example, runs a different spectrum for its mobile data and voice services compared to T-mobile. This is not only the case for AT&T but for other carriers as well because each one uses a distinct spectrum to run 3G. Even though many GSM phones work with 2G bandwidths just by tuning radios, this is not the same with Universal Mobile Telecommunications System’s 3G bands. This is the reason why Nexus One is planning to create separate versions for various network carriers.

Aside from AT&T, there are also other carriers such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint adding up to the numerous variations of frequencies that a mobile device can not support all at once. The solution to add several radio tuners and circuits to mobile devices to corroborate with different carriers is not an option because this will cause higher power and space consumption leading to a much greater mobile price.

Due to this, certain mobile devices like smartphones are oblige to work with particular carriers. According to AT&T, many iPhone users from San Francisco and New York are complaining about poor 3G network and this is caused by the excessive number of 3G users within the area. Aside from this, AT&T can not turn users to T-Mobile even though both are using the same technology. Both network carriers only divert traffic with each other when they have 2G network overloading.

According to Redman, the introduction of T-Mobile’s Android phones to 3G services is concerning. Due to the late entry, T-Mobile does not have enough spectrums. This is because T-Mobile did not acquire spectrums from the past auctions due to the economic problems its primary stockholder Deutsche Telekom experienced. The worst problem for T-Mobile arises when LTE launch because they have no spare spectrum for this. Most spectrums from 2008 were availed by AT&T and Verizon.

The availability of 4G will likely to result split frequencies and technologies, including WiMax 802.16m and LTE Advanced. Upon 4G’s release, the spectrum imbalance between networks will continue because devices will still be bound with the same carriers.

This imbalance can be seen in the following examples: In the U.S, AT&T and Verizon licensed LTE with 700MHz spectrum. European carriers are providing 2100MHz spectrum. Sprint, specifically chose WiMax over LTE, thinking that the technology will soon be available. Sprint aims to win the 4G market against its competitors, although according to Redman there are only a few carriers planning to have WiMax, making Sprint’s WiMax smart mobile phones unusable to most countries. Besides, manufacturers will not bother creating WiMax and LTE compatible mobiles.

Slight Hope for 4G

Yet, we can still hope for 4G to be less fragmented than 2G or 3G so manufacturers can create smartphones that are functioning well, even for LTE only.

Redman assumes that carriers will produce devices that are both 3G and 4G compatible, where 3G can be use for voice traffics and 4G for data services. Dual network routing might be able to lessen traffic jams among carriers. Moreover, this will allow carriers to balance traffic within their 3G and 4G networks, whereas 3G can support voice and data traffic while 4G supporting voice through VoIP.

In case LTE Advanced will be standardized, a smaller amount of frequency will be needed and with this carriers might allow multiple routing among each others’ networks. If carriers will comply with this suggestion, network capacity will be balanced. This will favor countries with lesser spectrum, where carriers are unable to provide all service due to shortage.

Although these implications sound hopeful, network carriers might not apply this. Undoubtedly, carriers will not share mobile devices with other networks so even if the above suggestion can be applied, many carriers will not participate in it. Network carriers are not giving their users the freedom to change carriers easily because this is risky and can cause unsteady revenues. In reality, carriers will not make a decision if it will not benefit them and user’s interest is only in the second spot.

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