What is 4G?

What is 4G? Well, 4G is an abbreviation for “fourth generation communications system”, also known as “long-term evolution” (LTE) technology.

4G was developed from 3G, which offered basic data and voice services. It addresses two limitations of 3G: network congestion and speed. But as mobile devices and other handheld devices have evolved, so has the demand for faster, higher-quality media.

How fast is 4G?

The main advantage of 4G mobile broadband is the rate of speed. The theoretical maximum download speed of 4G is 300Mbps, but it’s worth noting that in a real-world situation, download speeds are much lower.

Theoretical maximum download speeds:

  • 3G – 7.2Mbps
  • 3G HSPA+ - 42Mbps
  • 4G-LTE – 150Mbps
  • 4G-LTE Advanced – 300Mbps

Typical real-world download speeds

  • 3G – 3Mbps
  • 3G HSPA+ - 6Mpbs
  • 4G-LTE – 20Mbps
  • 4G-LTE Advanced – 42Mbps

Is 4G good enough for gaming and what latency do you receive?

When a standard internet connection isn’t viable, other alternatives such as Satellite Broadband can fill the void, but can cause issues for programs and games needing a fast response from the server.

With 4G, latency times have been reduced from 120 milliseconds (3G) to 60 milliseconds (4G). A 60-millisecond response might not sound like much of a difference, but will be very noticeable when playing online games and streaming live video.

Can I use 4G as home broadband?

Wired connections will always beat wireless connections, but for some users getting access to a wired connection is simply not possible, which makes 4G an attractive alternative.

Advantages of 4G

  • Download and upload speeds can be much faster than wired connections in isolated or rural areas.
  • A phone line is not required – No phone line, you say? That’s not an issue with 4G; it works using the same mobile internet connection as your mobile phone.
  • Flexible contracts – 4G data and mobile contacts must be competitive and flexible to keep up with the growing market.
  • Portable – 4G routers mean you can take your internet connection on the move with you. You can be anywhere and still be connected to the internet!
  • Data – 4G providers have seen a huge spike in sales, leading to a more competitively-priced market.
  • Cost of service – Before 4G, a video call used to cost up to four times the price of a regular call. 4G users are now paying less and getting faster speeds.
  • The Cloud – More and more applications and resources are being hosted online, saving money, time, and support. Instead of having something stored on the device, files can easily be stored online and accessed on demand.

Disadvantages of 4G

  • Relies on a strong network signal – The weaker the signal, the slower and more unstable it becomes.
  • Data usage caps can sometimes be low but are becoming more competitive.
  • It takes time and money for networks to roll out the new 4G technology and infrastructure to support a network of people.
  • In some areas, users would be forced to make do with 3G of Wi-Fi connectivity in areas that do not have 4G mobile network coverage.

If you live in a rural or isolated area with no access to a hardwired connection, or at least no access to a fast connection, then 4G broadband could be the perfect solution for you.