4G stands for the fourth generation of cell phone mobile communications standards, the successor to third generation standards, or 3G. Devices that can tap into a 4G network include smartphones, laptops with a wireless 4G enabled modem, and other mobile devices that support 4G such as the iPad. Some of the things we can expect to see taking advantage of 4G networks are gaming systems, high-definition mobile TV, 3D television and video conferencing.
What are the advantages of using 4G?
4G is a purely data networkThis means that instead of handling voice and data separately like 3G networks, 4G networks transfer everything as data. This makes 4G more like your regular internet at home, and allows for much higher levels of bandwidth.
Significantly higher speeds3G networks can only transfer data as fast as 1 Megabits per second (Mbps), whereas 4G networks currently have a top speed of around 3 Mbps. Over time the speed of 4G networks are expected to reach up to 100 Mbps in mobile devices and up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) in fixed locations.
Increased rangeUnder optimum conditions 3G networks currently have a range of up to 16 kilometers, whereas 4G networks have a much higher range of up to 50 kilometers.
No transfer interruptionsSometimes on 3G networks when you move from one coverage area to another any ongoing transfers may be interrupted. With 4G networks however, the transition from one coverage area to another happens seamlessly, meaning the user will have a smoother overall streaming experience.
More capabilitiesBecause of the speed and bandwidth increases that 4G networks brings, 4G devices have the power to handle more intensive applications such as high definition digital television, portable online gaming and improved GPS.
When can we expect 4G in New Zealand?
The first 4G network will be introduced to New Zealand in December 2013, which is a bit of a wait. In the meantime 4G enabled devices such as the iPhone and iPad will simply run on the 3G network.