Originally published: April 28, 2011
Last updated: April 28, 2011 - 10:35pm
[Commentary] If we accept that 4G has really become a marketing term -- divorced from any real technical definition -- and if operators are truly capable of delivering a new mobile broadband experience beyond what is possible with 3G networks, then they can use whatever delineating terminology they want.
If they can walk the walk, they should be able to talk the talk. T-Mobile’s high-speed packet access plus (HSPA+) has been impressive so far, and once AT&T gets its fiber backhaul in place, its new ‘4G’ network should be just as nifty. A year ago, I wouldn't have referred to either of these networks as 4G, while I would have described Sprint and Clearwire’s WiMax and Verizon Wireless’s long-term evolution (LTE) networks as 4G without blinking a lash. But if HSPA+ is capable of delivering 3 Mb/s to a smartphone and upwards of 8 Mb/s to a USB data card, who is to say that T-Mobile’s 4G is any worse than Sprint or Verizon’s 4G -- at least from a customer’s point of view. Furthermore, as HSPA+ co-opts many of LTE’s bright shiny features, like smart antenna technologies and big fat carriers, what we formerly deemed 3G technologies seem set to match WiMax and LTE’s key innovations. Given that more than 100 operators globally have justified that expense in their current and future roadmaps, there must be something to the argument that LTE is better. But what exactly are LTE’s advantages?
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