What is 4G LTE?
With the launch of Everything Everywhere’s 4G LTE technology on the horizon, there has been a lot of buzz about 4G mobile broadband. However many consumers are in the dark about exactly what this technology actually is. This article explains more about what the technology is and what it can do.
4G describes the 4th generation of mobile wireless communication that succeeds the 3G technology behind most currently available mobile broadband connections. The broadband technology, now being released as soon September 2012, is known as LTE or “Long Term Evolution.” This technology is expected to continuously improve, hence “evolution” and set the standard for the next decade or longer. The ultimate goal of LTE is to supply a long term alternative to DSL, cable and other forms of wired internet.
In order to qualify as actual 4G technology, LTE needs to be able to hit a peak rate of 100Mbps for high mobility users (such as those using it in trains or cars) and a peak rate of 1Gbps for low-mobility users (pedestrians or stationary users). What this means in layman’s terms is that 4G LTE hopes to achieve speeds that are absurdly faster than the currently available 3G connections. In December 2010, it was decided that the term 4G could be applied to the LTE technology, even though it hasn’t quite reached those prospected speeds yet, and that’s what will be coming from Everything Everywhere before the year is out.
As the UK doesn’t have LTE yet, we are not able to compare current services. However, the current national average in the United States for 3G download speed is about 1.10 Mbps, while the average download speed for current stateside 4G LTE technologies is a much higher 11.3 Mbps. There are similar results for upload speeds: 0.57 Mbps for 3G and 4.67 Mbps for 4G LTE. This, of course, is only what it is now. Theoretically, LTE could be much faster as it continues to develop in the future.
This opens up an entire world of options for businesses. As potentially, any task that a business owner usually has to be in their office to do will now be doable on 4G mobile devices. This opens up all manner of possibilities for productivity. Aside from that, the technology opens up all manner of options for connectivity. Higher mobile speeds mean the ability to stream video for live videoconferences, and the eventual transfer of voice communication to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) offers a more cost effective and secure solution to general voice calls.
For the personal user, these potential speeds can download a full length film in about ten minutes, as opposed to the hour it would take for current 3G speeds, that means only a couple of minutes for a full album, and possibly mere seconds for individual songs. Users will be able to stream from places such as YouTube with less time spent staring at buffering screens. All in all, there is potential for a much better mobile experience.
For both business and personal users, 4G is ideal for cloud sharing technology and NFC (Near Field Communication) opening up new options for sharing pictures, videos, data and even options for cashless payments. This could especially apply to various sorts of government agencies that implement photography in their work: giving them the ability to immediately upload pictures for evaluation mere moments after they are taken.
However, even though there only seem to be plans in place for 4G mobile, it could very possibly make its way onto home devices as well. If it accomplishes the ITU’s required speeds, it would be faster than any form of broadband that currently exists, shooting LTE forward in the goal that it will replace all of those other types. This, of course, will change the entire market for internet access as the world knows it, but developments on that front still remain to be seen in the UK.
There is still a lot unknown about what 4G will bring to the UK. For instance, there has been very little said on how much coverage the technology will actually have. It’s true that Everything Everywhere has goals to provide the service to 98% of the UK, but that is the company’s long term goal that could take upwards of 5 years to implement. It’s true that LTE technology uses radio waves rather than microwaves, potentially opening up more coverage than its current 3G, but no one will really know until it launches, as EE has been remarkably closed mouthed thus far on its plans for the release of the technology. UK users will however, be able to experience it firsthand very soon.