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31 January  2012 ~

Learning the basics of Mobile - 3g, 4g, WiMax

You’ve heard these acronyms used a million times.  You see them on TV commercials, billboards, even on the top bar of your smartphone display.  These descriptions serve as the latest and greatest bragging tools for different mobile phone carriers. But what do they mean? 

In short, these terms refer to the speed of the wireless mobile networks your phone utilizes for performance and coverage.  Every time there is a faster network, expect to see a new acronym. 

Typically, the posts on this blog focus on specific business impacts.  We are now focusing more on the impact of Mobile Apps on business and are starting to put together a “101” approach to some business basics.  With this in mind, one of the most basics unknown is what do all of these acronyms mean in relation to mobile devices.

Acronyms used by U.S. carriers to describe their wireless mobile networks:

“3G” : 3rd Generation were the first high connection speeds that enabled the streaming of media like radio and television.  This was introduced around 2001 and the ability to do this transformed the entire industry.  The 3G data network is supposed to support broadband-like download speeds of at least 2 megabits per second (one megabit  = 1,000,000 bits), depending on your location and the amount of traffic the network is experiencing.   (Think of an expressway and cars are the data. The more cars on the same expressway translates to more traffic which equals slower speed.)

“4G”:  4th Generation is a data network that is proclaimed to be the technical successor to 3G.  This 4G data network should be capable of supporting 1 gigabit per second (1 gigabit = 1,000,000,000 bits), depending on your location and network load.

However, carriers who have improved their existing 3G networks and offer a much improved network, such as “LTE”, “WiMax”, or “HSPA+” also label themselves as a 4G mobile network, even without reaching said speeds and perhaps that is stretching the truth somewhat.

LTE: (Long Term Evolution) – LTE is a type of 3G standard that offers up to 50 megabits per second

HSPA+: (High Speed Packet Access)  –  HSPA is another form of high speed mobile network that offers up to 21 megabits per second

WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) – WiMax is another advanced 3G standard that offers up to 20 megabits per second (Mbps), again, depending on your location and the amount of traffic currently occupying the mobile network.

So what does it all mean?

Literally… Every carrier is the fastest… has the most connectivity…. offers the best phones.

The four major U.S. mobile carriers all claim to have superior fourth generation technology for their phones, whether in practical use or in production.  Ultimately, this all has less to do with technology and everything to do with marketing. Pure and simple, these are marketing ploys. Check out the video skit below from Saturday Night Live highlighting this so well. Indeed, there are some differences between the carriers and the technologies they utilize, but one truth overshadows them all – pretty soon, everything will be so fast it will hardly make a difference.


About the CFO Strategist and his Team

In the mid 2000’s, new media meant “something cool for teens and twenty-somethings.” Friendster and MySpace were social media “giants,” but we identified a much larger opportunity beyond those networks. Four years ago, we took an in-depth look at the future of business and saw the impact of social media. We wrote about it in our 2008 book which became an immediate Amazon Best Seller. In fact, our book, 42 Rules for 24 Hour Success on LinkedIn also became one of the Top 100 Social Media books of All Time. 

Today, as we look ahead or look to “what’s next”, we see the significant impacts on business ranging from mobile strategy to maximizing online relevance. This time we are not writing about it. This time we are directly working with businesses to leverage it for business growth.

If you are interested in talking to our team about how we can expertly position you TODAY, to grow with TOMORROW’S technology, please contact us. We look forward to discussing our vision with you and how you can start generating tomorrow’s revenue today!


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