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What advantages do 4G wireless networks have over 3G networks?

Yes, 4G represents a technological step beyond its 3G predecessor. But how exactly are 4G wireless networks more advanced than 3G networks? Telecom expert Mike Jude breaks it down.

What advantages do 4G wireless networks have over 3G networks?

The simple answer is that a 4G network theoretically will have a higher data transfer rate. With the appropriate amount of spectrum and good network engineering, a Long Term Evolution (LTE)-based network has the potential to reach 100 Mbps, while a WiMAX network can top out at 70 Mbps.

A more complex answer is that a 4G wireless network is a pure data connection: that is, it is an end-to-end Internet Protocol connection. This provides some real advantages, but also some disadvantages. On the one hand, a smartphone simply becomes another data device whose native mode is as an Internet-enabled terminal and that can be managed as such.

On the other hand, services such as voice require some additional machinations to support effectively. Since voice is not intrinsically data-centric and must be converted to data before it can be transferred, voice-capable LTE handsets have been slow in coming.

Have a question for Mike Jude? Send an e-mail to [email protected].

This was last published in May 2011

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