All you need to know about 4G India

It seems like companies are now gearing up to bring 4G services to India and most of us would agree to the fact that at this time we’ve barely got a grip on 3G services in the country. Last year, we saw the introduction of 3G services in full swing, which was later spiced up by new Idea and Reliance 3G advertisements showing the difference in speeds and a controversial Vodafone-Dhaval Valia spat over availability of the company’s 3G services, to name a few. With the web abuzz with news about 4G hitting us soon, we decided give you a low down about 4G services.


What is 4G?
4G stands for Fourth Generation communication technology and the fastest communication network for mobile devices. Well, it is the fastest network, but that doesn’t sum up the definition of the 4G network. Unlike its predecessor 3G that uses spread spectrum, the 4G wireless communication involves mobile communication using Voice over Internet protocol. It’s due to the wireless data transfer through Internet Protocols (IP) maximizing packet data switching, that 4G is capable of achieving higher speeds. Putting aside the technical jargon, in simpler words, this process allows 3G network to deliver quicker data transfers at a lower cost.

While 3G was a huge transformation from 2G, back then, this isn’t going to be the case with the newly developing 4G services. In fact, 4G services do not yet have a standard definition, as the most recent technologies claiming to offer 4G speeds are LTE and Wimax. Just like you need to qualify certain criterias to be called an Ultrabook by Intel, the International telecommunications Union has put forth a standard set of requirements for 4G, such as peak speed of 100Mbits/s for mobile communications, while on-the-go and 1Gbits/s for stationary or pedestrian users to be qualified as 4G capable.

What are LTE and Wimax technologies?
These are the popular 4G networks being used in countries, like the U.S. Verizon Wireless deploys LTE technology, while Sprint adheres to Wimax for offering their 4G services. HSPA+ has been used by T-Mobile and AT&T.

LTE is a good, easily deployable network technology offering high speeds and low latencies over long distances. Long Term Evolution is abbreviated as LTE and it’s also called 3GPP UMTS LTE. LTE networks are easy to deploy and offer high speeds. Airtel, who is said to be launching its 4G services this month would be adhering to the LTE TDD network.

WiMAX is an IP-based wireless broadband technology, also known as IEEE 802.16. WiMAX is simply the name of the network system that transmits wireless signals between towers. It stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access and makes it possible to achieve Wi-Fi like data rates.

Companies have been marketing these technologies branded as 4G, however, they are believed to be far from being qualified by the International Telecommunication Union, due to their inability to reach the desired speeds.


Difference between 3G and 4G
While 4G networks would be catering to all mobile devices, smartphones are going to be the ones to gain the most, owing to the demand for rocket-like speeds at which users can access data on-the-go on the already popular smartphones. To begin with, 4G network can carry more data over a time period, compared to 3G. The peak speeds offered by 4G are also much higher. 4G is said to offer about 7 to 10 times faster speed than 3G, allowing quicker streaming of larger files. While 2G and 3G were designed keeping voice in mind, 4G has been designed keeping data transfers in view. The coverage is also said to be much better even within a concrete jungle of buildings. The cost of 4G speeds is much higher, although it’s better you check the speed your operator is offering.

What it has for you?
4G network would ensure faster speeds, better coverage and riding on it, the mobile arena would get the boost to move ahead by leaps and bounds in India. This is theoretical; practically, this will be possible only if the 4G plans are priced properly, released in all major cities followed by other regions. Reliance plans to offer Rs.10/1GB 4G data plans, along with its 4G-based tablets, making 4G quite cost effective. The introduction of 4G, would mean price drops in the 3G plans, which could lead to wider acceptance of 3G services.

Is 4G making an early entry in India (4G services launch this year) and what about 4G compatible devices?

Well, this is a tricky question. Yes, it’s too early, as 3G penetration hasn’t been as effective, as we had expected, owing to high prices. On the other hand, possibly 4G introduction could drive acceptance of 3G. With the future of 4G quite meager, at least until last year, we obviously don’t have many devices supporting 4G to talk about yet. But, Reliance is said to come up with its cheapest 4G tablets, later this year. With announcements by Airtel and that about other companies investing in 4G services in India, we might see an array of devices come in starting later this year.

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