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What exactly is 4G? – ITU Explains

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LG Revolution 4G hands-onGLOBAL – Most of us have seen an advertisement featuring something 4G lately. It’s the latest and fastest new networks and one would assume it’s one level higher than 3G.

However, there has been a legal battle raging as of late due to the term 4G. What exactly is 4G? Well that depends on who you ask. The ITU, or International Telecommunications Union had the following to say in regards to 4G:

Following a detailed evaluation against stringent technical and operational criteria, ITU has determined that ‘LTE-Advanced’ and ‘WirelessMAN-Advanced’ should be accorded the official designation of IMT-Advanced

As the most advanced technologies currently defined for global wireless mobile broadband communications, IMT-Advanced is considered as ‘4G’, although it is recognized that this term, while undefined, may also be applied to the forerunners of these technologies, LTE and WiMax, and to other evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed.

So what this means is basically anything faster than 3G can be called 4G. Yet according to the ITU, that’s not true. They only recognize LTE-Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced as true 4G, but will admit that the term 4G is still undefined. Speed wise, these technologies may not be true 4G but they are certainly faster than 3G and thus should be called something else.

The only real reason this is an issue right now is because South African network operator Cell C started advertising a 4G network and the competition, Vodacom and MTN, thought they were being deceiptive and trying to mislead customers. Cell C claims that they never made a claim to have a technical 4G network and it’s just an advertising term. Anyway you slice it, the same is happening worldwide. Every carrier seems to be using different technology and claiming their technology is the best and fastest.

In the end most of us are not going to notice much of a difference between the 3.5G of HSPA to the 3.75G of HSPA+ or even the 3.9G of LTE, we’ll all be happy with whatever “4G”, or whatever we should call it, we end up picking.

For more on this country’s news, follow PhoneRPT South Africa

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By , Chicago, IL, USA on Mar 18th, 2011 GMT +2

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