You may have a few questions about 4G and if the service is right for you. We tackle some of the most frequently asked questions about the new service offered by carriers. Have more questions? Submit your question here or leave a comment below.
Whats the difference between 4G and 3G?
In the simplest terms 3G and 4G are the third and fourth generation mobile data networks, respectively. Just as 3G was much faster than 2G and 2.5G, 4G is a lot faster than 3G. The speed difference can be compared to the difference between low-end DSL speeds and basic cable speeds, which for arguments sake are essentially 768Kbps to 1.5Mbps vs. 4Mbps to 6Mbps, respectively. In short, 4G data networks are a lot faster than 3G data networks. You can learn more about 3G vs. 4G by reading this blog post.
Can I use any 4G product with the service?
There are different networks that offer 4G services so not all 4G products will work on all 4G networks. For example, Sprint uses WiMAX to offer 4G service, while Verizon uses a technology called LTE that requires a SIM card for use, and T-Mobile and AT&T use a technology called HSPA+. This means a Sprint 4G device would not be compatible with Verizons, T-Mobile, or AT&Ts 4G networks. That said, you could use any 4G device offered by a carrier on their network. For example, you could use both the Motorola Xoom and ThunderBolt by HTC with Verizons 4G service, but neither device would work with Sprints, AT&Ts, or T-Mobiles 4G service.
Do I need a new phone to use 4G service?
If you dont already have a 4G phone, then you will need to get a 4G compatible phone from a carrier that offers 4G. Youll also need to be in a 4G area to use the service. (See previous question for more details).
What if I have a 4G product and Im not in a 4G market?
No problem, the device will still work. The smartphones, tablets, and MiFi 4G products are all backwards compatible to 3G networks. This means youll still be able to use all of the products other features, just not the 4G connectivity when youre out of a 4G coverage area. We should note that many of the 4G products also offer a WiFi connection so if theres an available WiFi network you can connect to that network to surf the web at typically higher speeds than those offered by 3G networks.
Does 4G service cost extra?
Technically, the answer is no. However, the 4G devices do require a data plan. Since these tend to be higher-end phones and products there may be an additional charge. For example, Sprint requires a $10 monthly fee for premium products, however, the additional fee isnt just for 4G phones. The Kyocera Echo, which isnt a 4G phone still requires the $10 monthly fee.
Which carriers offer 4G service?
Are all 4G services the same?
No. The carriers have built different networks to offer 4G service and as such the networks offer various speeds and coverage areas.
Are there any downsides to 4G service?
The main downside to 4G is its effect on battery life. When 4G service is activated and in use by the device it does tend to drain battery life faster, so you might want to have a spare battery on hand.