There aren't many tech fields that move faster than the cell phone world. Not only are the devices themselves designed to be disposable within two years, but the back-end technology powering the networks is constantly being upgraded.
That means the transition to the next generation of wireless communications is already under way. The latest is called 4G — and all of the carriers are peppering their marketing with the phrase. What many are failing to do, though, is explain what's so important about 4G and why consumers should care.
What is 4G — and how is it different from 3G?
4G is the fourth generation of phone data networks. The first generation (1G) made its debut in 1979 in Japan. The analog network, launched by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, was a breakthrough at the time, but it lacked range and required enormous battery power. (It was also incredibly insecure and allowed just about anyone with a little tech know-how to listen in on calls.)
|The new Sprint HTC Evo 4G smartphone is |
|displayed at the International CTIA Wireless |
|2010 convention at the Las Vegas Convention |
|Center March 24, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CTIA|
|is the international association for the |
|wireless telecommunications industry. |
2G made its debut in 1991 and introduced digital signals to cell phone technology. This added a layer of security to conversations and took up less bandwidth, meaning the batteries (and thus, the phones) could be smaller. During this time text messaging and email delivered to your phone became possible.
3G, the current standard, made its debut in 2001 – but no one really took notice until 2007, when Apple introduced the iPhone. 3G allowed providers to simultaneously provide voice and data services. Also, people could watch video on their phones. But...