With the recent hype from Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile) about their new 4G LTE Service which they are calling 4GEE, many comparisons are being made between existing 3G and the new 4G wireless broadband services. EE (Everything Everywhere) are using some Ofcom report which states that the average 3G Speed in the UK is only 1-2Mbps and their new 4G service will be five times faster (I suppose that means 5-10Mbps).
This 1-2Mbps is not the reality for most users and since Three.co.uk updated their 3G network to the new HSPA+service which offers download speeds up to 21Mbps, many users find that their download and upload speeds on 3G are around 5-6Mbps for download and 2Mbps for upload and many users of traditional fixed line ADSL broadband services in rural and semi-rural locations do not get this kind of speed and are moving to 3G wireless broadband internet.
When we tested our 3 Mobile SIM card inside a Zalip CDG561WE 3G Router which is a HSPA+ Router we consistently got 12Mbps download speeds and 2Mbps upload speeds which we thought was very impressive.
So when you are asking the question How Fast is 4G then you should also ask How Fast Is 3G so you can make a proper comparison when deciding whether or not to invest in a new 4G LTE Router or 4G Modem and whether existing 3G mobile broadband is enough for you especially as many networks still cap your 3G data limits when using a 3G Modem, 3G Dongle or 3G Router with many of the uncapped 3G data plans only available for use in 3G Smartphones.
What is the situation with 4G services in the UK and what are we really waiting for?
UK users are going to have to wait a bit longer for 4G as the auctions for providing services is scheduled for late 2012 with first launch only possible in 2013 although this would appear impractical.
But what are we really waiting for?
3G services have rolled into 3.5G services and even 3.9G services, which are not standards as such but variations on the theme of the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) release schedule. These mid services primarily support HSDPA and HSUPA High Speed Download Packet Access and High Speed Upload Packet Access , The download offering promises speeds towards the terminal of 1.8, 3.6, 7.2 and 14.0Megabit/s. This is not a symmetrical offering and the upload speed is offering a new bearer of 384 kbit/s. The previous maximum bearer was 128 kbit/s. HSUPA or the HSPA offers up-link speeds of up to 5.76 Mbit/s. The name HSUPA was created incidentally by Nokia.
However, this is an ideal view of the world and in practice the speeds achieved are woefully short of this but let’s keep the view ‘blue sky’ for the moment.
In summary, 4G or 4TH Generation services offer a Peak data rates of up to 100 Mbit/s for high mobility and up to approximately 1 Gbit/s for low mobility such as local wireless access. Then it starts to get really very technical as to how this quantum leap in speeds is achieved with super efficient frequency modulation and various advanced radio techniques but maybe we will come back to this at a later date to try to unravel what it is and why it can promise so much. Further analysis is also required of the industry politics the other challenges in providing these super fast access speeds which 10 years ago would have been unthinkable. The bottle neck is going to move out of the access interface and into the core network and that is going to be a considerable challenge to the mobile operators as up until now they could blame everything else for slow response. There is a way to go yet for terminal and network, but as we always say, it can only get better in the future and the future is….well yes, yet to be discovered.