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4g Wireless Networks

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4G Wireless Networks

Since 2008, fourth generation (4G) wireless networks have been proclaiming faster speeds for internet connectivity than the third generation (3G) networks. However, upgrading to a 3G or 4G wireless network can be quite expensive. Nevertheless, those who find the need for speed and mobility may find that it is worth the added expense. The war is on between the two generations of networks but there is speculation as to which is truly faster and better. The following paragraphs will provide an overview of both wireless networks, and will include a contrast and compare of 3G wireless networks to 4G networks in relation to application and services, user perception, network architecture, and data throughput. The information offered will also differentiate between 4G LTE, 4G WiMax, and 4G WiBro networks based on upload and download speeds, user perceptions, backward compatibility, and service availability. The following paragraphs will also identify the competition between the 4G LTE carriers and why it has been so fierce, as well as how subscribers will benefit from this competition.

When shopping for 3G and 4G wireless networks, consumers will have to comparison shop to find a service that will meet their particular needs. Today, most cell phone providers offer both 3G and 4G wireless service in conjunction with Internet service. Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T are just a few of the providers that use 3G as a standard mobile Internet service, in addition to providing 4G service. However, subscribers also need to be aware that 4G is a different service with a different network. Since 4G networks are fairly new, as of 2010, the price tag tends to be expensive (Wimax Wifi Technology & Broadband Internet, 2011).

To access wireless service subscribers need to have a service plan, a network, and equipment for connecting to the Internet. For instance, Sprint's WiMAX (also known as Clear) is based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.16e design. The IEEE 802.16e design challenges the current 3G technology suppliers based on the orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) base technology implemented in 802.16-2004, the 802.16e is devised to provide more sub-frequencies than the ODFDM 256-FFT. Both standards sustain single carrier OFDM 256-fast Fourier transform (FFT) and orthogonal frequency division multiplexing access (OFDMA) 1K-FFT (Wimax Wifi Technology & Broadband Internet, 2011).

Although Sprint's network provides satisfactory coverage on the east and west coasts it still has problems with connectivity in the middle of the country, and currently there are 12 states with no 4G service whatsoever. If subscribers are unable to attain a 4G connection, they can always fall back to using Sprints 3G networks which is available in all 50 states. Although Sprint states that they will have a national 4G network for now subscribers in the upper Midwestern part of the country will continue to have connectivity issues (WiMAX.com, 2012).

Wireless networks today are primarily the same leading systems used for universal long distance voice communication by using universal mobile telecommunication systems (UMTS) voice-mode, and code division multiple access (CDMA) 2000, which use link accommodated switching and transmission technology. Evolving systems for video circulation, such as MediaFLO in the United States, use transmission technology that is broadcast specific. However, current 3G mobile wireless systems that support Internet data services are specifically for surfing the web, and the purpose of file transfer applications (Lehr & Chapin, n.d.).

Even with the extensive placement of wireless 3G networks sustaining internet protocol (IP) could suggest that wireless platform architectures are catching on, and uniting wired and wireless network designs. Unfortunately, interpretation is incorrect. To date service providers have yet to announce any plans market voice or video broadcast services as an historic application atop of its IP platform. The wireless IP networks are simply for Internet data access and are too inefficient to replace previous networks systems (Lehr & Chapin, n.d.). According to Lehr and Chapin (n.d.), "It is highly unlikely that deployment of fourth generation networks will change this fundamental dynamic. The 4G system currently expected to dominate, Long Term Evolution ("LTE"), is an IP-centric data network with impressive capabilities and a platform network architecture" (On the Convergence of Wired and Wireless Access Network Architectures, p. 13).

Nevertheless, most of the major wireless carriers seem to be keeping up with the upsurge of demand for mobile data service. 3G service today is still as fast as it was year ago even with more subscribers drawing off the networks with their information driven gadgets. A faster 4G wireless service is also becoming quite common in more populated areas throughout the United States (Sullivan, 2012). To follow is an illustration of average 3G and 4G wireless network internet speeds that came from a study provided by Mark Sullivan of PCWorld.

However, before WiMAX began to expand services to mobile phones it originated as a way to transport wireless broadband connections into businesses and homes in an effort to eliminate the cost of using cables. WiMAX and the Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connection speeds are the same and will run approximately between five and ten megabits per second (Mbps). The problem did not lie with WiMAX being a flawed product as much as Sprint and its partner, Clearwire, did not initiate mobile WiMAX until September 2008. In 2006, 3G networks were running around one Mbps and Sprint was promising to have much faster capabilities. At the time Sprint was not only backed by Intel which promised to have WiMAX in dozens of laptop computers and make WiMAX a household name, they were also backed by Nokia which was the number one cellular phone company in the world. Unfortunately, Sprint wasted too much time building its network and by the time they were able to get it on the market the cell phone industry had moved on from WiMAX to long term evolution (LTE) (Sagen, 2012).

The version of WiMAX Sprint is currently using should be delivering download speeds of 30-40Mbps but LTE can deliver up to 100Mbps, though they are not achieving those speeds. A network's performance truly relies on how it is built not the specifications of the primary technology (Sagen, 2012). Also, Sagen (2012) states that, "Our Fastest Mobile Networks results tell the tale. In our tests across the country, Sprint's WiMAX averaged about 3Mbps down, and it's currently capped to 1.5Mbps up. That's slower

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