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4G Wireless Networks
The 4G network scores over the 3G network in terms of services and applications that
rely on a much higher speed of connection, with the 4G network faster by several times. The 4G
network characterizes downstream speeds of about 300 Mbps and upstream speeds of 75 Mbps.
On the other hand, the 3G network was in reality the first mobile broadband, with speeds of up to
2 Mbps. Prominent services that will be services well within 4G networks include VoIP and
video (applications like Apple’s “Facetime”, Skype Video Conferencing, HD video streaming
etc), simultaneous users per calls etc.
The 3G service is vastly used because of the lower consumptive battery power associated
with the 3G technology. Lower quality video streaming, regular email connectivity (using
Eudora, Thunderbird), speedy browsing etc. can be easily accomplished using 3G internet. 3G
networks are developed over circuit-switched and packet-switched networks. Technologies
comprising the 3G include WCDMA (wideband CDMA), HSPA (high speed packets), CDMA
(code division multiple access) 2000, GSM and GAN. CDMA 2000 is being used widely across
the US by carriers like Verizon and Sprint. 3G technology features faster recovery from errors,
better modulation and coding etc.
The technologies in the 4G realm include mobile WiMax, LTE (long term evolution),
HSPA+ (evolved high speed packet access) as well as HC-SDMA. Peak rates with WiMax go
upto 128 Mbps downstream and 56 Mbps upstream. LTE peak rates hover at about 100 Mbps
upstream and 50 Mbps downstream. All communication happens through the IP protocol, be it
messaging, voice, video or data. User perceptions as regards 4G are that 4G speeds ensure
smooth multimedia usage of all kinds, whereas 3G is become the minimum acceptable standard
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for users shelling out for mobile internet plans.
4G LTE, 4G WiMax & 4G WiBro
As far as 4G LTE is concerned, the peak download rate of upto 299.6 Mbit/s and a peak
upload rate of 75.4 Mbit/s has been seen with 4×4 antennas. 20 Mhz of frequency was employed
(Sesia, Toufik & Baker, 2011). Using 2×20 MHz FDD, the downstream speed was recorded at
141 Mbits/s for WiMax and upstream speeds were reported at 138 Mbits/s. As far as WiBro is
concerned, the peak download speed is 128 Mbits/s and the peak upload speed is 56 Mbit/s.
User perceptions about the three technologies are widely different, despite them being
belonging to the 4G class. For one, the LTE (long term evolution) technology is really the most
commercially successful and most deployed of all three. As of today, it has been implemented in
North America, Russia, Brazil, India, Australia and the nordic region, even as inroads are being
made in Europe and elsewhere. WiBro is slower and has been mainly restricted to South Korea
and has evolved there as a form of 4G WiMax (Malik, 2009). WiMax in its right has been
employed heavily for last mile access. It is quick to progressively replace cable and DSL. Public
perception over these technologies is still surficial since there is lack of enough identification
and lack of equal access to these technologies.
Backward compatibility was possible with WiMax release 2, as far back as the first
release. Migration was possible using channel cards and software. WiMAX 2 Collaboration
Initiative was setup entirely to help with compatibility. As far as LTE is concerned, with little
backward compatibility, carriers are to re-develop their calling network. With LTE, only packet
switching is supported; the network is all IP. Whereas the older networks, be it GSM, UMTS,
CDMA2000, all are circuit-switched. WiBro is an evolution of WiMax.
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Competition between 4G LTE Carriers
Competition between the 4G LTE carriers has been fierce because of the revolutionary
opportunity that came by way of its implementation. The speeds increased drastically and
switching was not an automatic task for carriers. They had to move to packet switching from
being circuit-switched. Besides, the LTE network is all IP based. The decision making and
varying degrees of complexities involved meant that some networks emerged for the better out
of the implementation.
Verizon beat other major carriers in implementation and speed of it. Even as most of its
network was LTE, ATT and Sprint were still deciding or starting toward the technology.
Competition has been fierce because faster implementation makes all the difference. That much
sooner the carrier would be able to hitch new consumers in plans extending two or more years –
reducing incentives for other carriers in perhaps the entire region. These consumers would get
added incentives in getting their friends and family sign on, in order to get favorable
communication rates with them, further reducing the market for a new carrier. Therefore, the
carrier that first gets to a region with the faster speed gets almost the entire territory. This is
specially true for the larger carriers like Verizon, who can afford to invest vast sums into existing
operations. Competition is also fierce so that carriers can keep pace with manufacturers of
devices, who are ready with 4G technology. The carrier with the maximum spread will be able to
dictate terms to device makers, offer the latest phones and attract the buyer with the most
disposable income. Recently, the introduction of the first iPhone (iPhone 5) with an LTE
antennae took the celerity to new highs.
Benefits to Consumers
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The biggest benefit to consumers out of this competition derives from the theory of a
perfect market. Just as in any other perfect market or industry, consumers will benefit from the
number of choices that they can choose from. Decisions could be made based upon the number
of relatives and friends that share the carrier and thus can afford them cheaper rates over calls
and text messages.
For the carriers on the other hand, the competition intensifies. They have to do everything
they can, that enables the value of a marginal dollar a customer spends to rise. More features and
better implementation would be spurred and this too, would benefit the consumer, in that it
enhances their experience.
More Markets : Verizon over ATT
Toward the end of 2012, Verizon celebrated in Marquette, Michigan its 400th market,
leaps and bounds ahead of ATT’s deployment. On the other hand, ATT had merely covered 76
markets, followed by Sprint’s 15. Verizon was able to get ahead because they started earlier than
everyone else: a join effort with Vodafone to transition was already created by the 20th
September, 2007. Trials were already starting in 2008. It was not easier at all for Verizon to shift
because their earlier platform of CDMA was entirely different that the proposed LTE (Cheng,
At the time, however, ATT and T Mobil were busy pushing for a variant of HSPA
technology, inaccurately labeling it as 4G. Therefore, their focus was scattered. Reduced
competition additionally enabled Verizon to secure an attractive partnership with Vodafone in
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