4G mobile phones have the potential to transform the mobile internet experience. 4G technology will allow us to download content at superfast speeds and transform our handsets into complete entertainment hubs. 4G is so quick that when utilised fully it would even challenge the fastest fibre-optic home connections – 300Mbps compared to a home maximum of 100Mbps.
What does 4G mean?
The term 4G stands for ‘fourth generation’ and refers mobile network technology, currently in development, which will see mobile phones connect to the internet faster than ever before. Current generation mobile phone networks use 4G’s technological forerunner 3G, which itself was preceded by 2G and 1G technology.
The advent of the UK’s first 3G network in 2003 enabled carriers to offer a host of new and exciting services to consumers. These include video calling and wide area wireless voice telephony. 3G has also allowed mobiles to let users receive and send emails, get map and SATNAV directions, and download music and videos very quickly on their handsets.
In turn, the introduction of 4G is set to be the catalyst for a host of new mobile internet services, the likes of which would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago.
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What will 4G mobile phones offer?
As was the case with 3G, the arrival of 4G networks will pave the way for 4G phones that can offer a host of hitherto unseen services. Many of these are expected to be entertainment-related, with HD music and video being a main focus.
One of the principal differences between 4G and 3G models is the speed at which they can download files from the internet. A typical 3G phone can connect to the internet at a maximum speed of up to 7.2Mbps, a whereas a 4G phone will be able to do so at up to 300Mbps.
Mobile entertainment providers are expected to take advantage of this by launching extensive movie and TV download services. These will harness the power of 4G technology to deliver content, such as full length movies in high definition, directly to a 4G mobile phone and streamed in a matter of seconds or downloaded in a matter of minutes.
Faster mobile internet connectivity will also bring an incredibly smooth browsing experience to 4G phones, thus calling time once and all on the days of web pages failing to load at peak usage times.
Finally, the mobile gaming experience is set to be completely transformed, too, with faster connections offering more complex online multiplayer games that make current generation titles look very rudimentary indeed.
When can I get a 4G mobile phone?
Unfortunately, 4G phones’ arrival in the UK looks to be a little while off yet. The technology is ready, but the mobile operators are keen to make more money from 3G technology first.
In the meantime, other countries are already pressing ahead with the technology. In late 2009, TeliaSonera became the first network operator in the world to launch a 4G service, and provided 4G services commercially to customers in Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo in Norway. Since then US carriers, including Verizon and T-Mobile, have also unveiled 4G networks in parts of the US. In the UK, O2 has conducted successful trials of a 4G network that it claims could be on offer across the country soon.
What else does the future hold for mobile phones?
Mobile phones will never completely replace a powerful work/home computer, but they will certainly replace home phones, physical phone lines and may be home broadband connections. If mobile phones can provide speeds of up to 300Mbpps, then a fixed line connection of 24Mbps at home will seem slightly anemic. Why would people need a separate home phone and internet line if their mobile can be the hub of everything?
For more information read our guide to the future of mobile phones.