Be Smart When It Comes to 4G

No doubt you’ve heard the hype and seen the ads. But is 4G mobile Internet really better? It will be. Before you rush out and trade in your phone and switch carriers, here’s a little background you should know.

4G is actually a marketing term that refers to the “fourth” generation of cellular wireless. Each generation is new and improved. The first generation, or 1G, was your basic analog cellular technology of the 1970s that transmitted voice wirelessly. Then came 2G, which was entirely digital and allowed for data services like SMS texting. Next was 3G, which focused on developing data technologies and adding them to voice. And now with 4G, advanced data technologies have also been added, including wireless multimedia such as interactive TV (which means you don’t need a cable modem).

These latest advancements are possible because of technology that delivers download rates capable of speeds 10 to 100 times faster than 3G. That’s really fast.

But notice the word “capable.” There is tremendous promise with 4G technology, yet it’s still new.

Our suggestion: wait for the market to get more competitive later this year, then take it out for a test drive. Make sure to test it in the places you usually use WiFi — home, work, the coffee shop, the car (but not while driving, thanks) — because chances are it will be fastest in the store. If you like it, and if you like the 4G phone and carrier better than the ones you have now, switch!

Today you can choose between Clear and Sprint 4G (Sprint is the backbone carrier for Clear, which is the non-carrier company that’s been paving the marketing way for 4G). Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T will all come out with 4G technology by the end of the year.

One last thing: do you think your new iPhone 4 is using 4G? Nope. It’s just the “fourth” generation of iPhone.