A No Nonsense Guide to 4G and the Future of Mobile Communications: A Series on 4G LTE

What is 4G?  &  A quick history of 4G.

What is 4G?

Verizon Wireless 4G LTE logoJust about the time everyone got use to talking about their 3G phones, 4G stepped onto the center stage of mobile communications. It might be easy to assume that 4G is just the newest version in a long line of mobile updates much like typical software updates such as 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and so on. Since 3G came offering faster speeds and clearer communication lines, it is once again assumed that 4G is now bringing even faster speeds and even better communication lines.

Actually, 4G is a game changer for mobile communications around the world. While it does mean faster, better wireless communications, it means much more. The key benefits of 4G for customers include:

• Speed – Faster data speeds for downloads and uploads
• Low Latency – Customer will spend less time waiting for information to process and respond on their devices
• Accessibility – Ultimately 4G will mean broadband access anytime, anywhere in the world with any technology
• Customization – Customers will enjoy greater personalization in the products they use
• Integration – 4G connects devices to devices, so now customers will enjoy easy integration of multiple technologies

But 4G is even bigger than these benefits. It has a long reaching impact on the way we communicate and the way our world interacts. To a get sense of the magnitude, here’s a quick history of 4G.

A Quick History of 4G

Alex Lightman coined phrase 4GAlex Lightman, the man who is credited with coining the term 4G has suggested that “4G is the next and last generation of wireless communication.”1 In 2002, Lightman published, Brave New Unwired World: The Digital Big Bang and the Infinite Internet, where he anticipated the future of wireless communication, and how it would impact everything else in the world. In October 2010, Lightman accepted a Reader’s Choice Award from The Economist on behalf 4G as the invention that would most impact the world in the next decade.2

4G is not simply a better, faster 3G. 4G is standard that will connect telecommunication devices around the world, ushering in new technological possibilities that are still being realized. It is the wireless communications standard that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) established in 2002. They designated the new standard as IMT-Advanced and set specific goals for a global telecommunication platform that would connect developed and undeveloped nations and connect divergent technologies by focusing on four essential dimensions: spectrum, marketplace, regulatory, and technology.

• Spectrum refers to the frequency in radio and telecommunications where information travels in a wave along an assigned frequency range. This is the basis for all wireless communication.
• Marketplace represents the needs of the users and the demand for services within each market.
• Regulatory assures authorized controls within the spectrum, ensuring resources are properly shared among licenses.
• Technology utilizes the spectrum to deliver specific capabilities that meet the needs of markets and the regulations of markets.

IMT-Advanced (and later termed 4G) represents the combined work of over 200 standards organizations around the world, assuring that telecommunications can drive social and economic development through a borderless wireless broadband networks in every nation.

For the past decade, professionals from every nation have been developing the technologies that work with established the standards and protocols to introduce a form of wireless communications that is not limited to specific places, works between multiple services, and provides sufficient support for the levels of customer access that dramatically rise every year.

Implementing 4G technologies is a multiphase process. In 2010 and 2011, initial stages of the 4G broadband standards have been introduced. Over the next several years, 4G technologies and products will continue to develop and expand, offering more and more benefits to consumers, businesses, healthcare and societies all around the world.

-Doug Floyd

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