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What Is 4G?

What Is 4G?
by Gary Woods

Back in 2005 a body called the IEEE which sets standards created a format called 4G for Wireless Internet. It called for speeds from 100 Megabits per Second to 1 Gigabit per Second. To give you an idea of how fast that is, if you use Cox for Internet you get speeds of 5 to 6 Megabits per Second. They tell you that you get 12, but you don't. So 100, is 20 times faster than Cox speeds.

You may have noticed that people like Verizon are advertising 4G service. Well actually it's something called Long Term Evolution or LTE which is kind of the beginnings of a 4G network but gives you speeds of between 5 & 12 Megabits per Second. So, Cox speeds on my Droid Phone or iPad sound pretty good to me.

AT&T and T-Mobile also have a protocol they call 4G but it's actually something called HSPA+ which is really 3G with a speed boost. That being said, it's still pretty good because it will give you between 5 & 6 Megabits per Second speeds.

Verizon has just released their first 4G phone called the Thunderbolt by HTC and AT&T is marketing the HTC Inspire and the Motorola Atrix both of which are 4G capable. Okay, so all of that is pretty cool but what does it do for us in Santa Barbara? Verizon has said that we'll have 4G here somewhere between September and the end of the year but I couldn't find a date when AT&T will roll out their version of 4G for us homies. They do say that "by the end of 2011, we expect approximately 2/3 of our mobile broadband traffic to be delivered over our enhanced network."

So, to end where we started by asking the question, "What is 4G?".It's anything the marketing folks at the cell carriers say it is.

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc