Fourth generation, simply put 4G connectivity is the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology, succeeding 3G and preceding in mobile connectivity.
A 4G system, in addition to the usual voice and other services of 3G, provides mobile broadband Internet access, for example to laptops with wireless modems, to smartphones, and to other mobile devices. Potential and current applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, 3D television, and cloud computing.
Two 4G candidate systems are commercially deployed: the Mobile WiMAX standard (first used in South Korea in 2007), and the first-release Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard (in Oslo, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden since 2009). It has however been debated if these first-release versions should be considered to be 4G or not, as discussed in the technical definition section below.
In the United States, Sprint (previously Clearwire) has deployed Mobile WiMAX networks since 2008, while MetroPCS became the first operator to offer LTE service in 2010.
USB wireless modems were among the first devices able to access these networks, with WiMAX smartphones becoming available during 2010, and LTE smartphones arriving in 2011. 3G and 4G equipment made for other continents are not always compatible, because of different frequency bands. Mobile WiMAX is currently (April 2012) not available for the European market.
In March 2008, the International Telecommunications Union-Radio communications sector (ITU-R) specified a set of requirements for 4G standards, named the International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced (IMT-Advanced) specification, setting peak speed requirements for 4G service at 100 megabits per second (Mbit/s) for high mobility communication (such as from trains and cars) and 1 gigabit per second (Gbit/s) for low mobility communication (such as pedestrians and stationary users).
Since the first-release versions of Mobile WiMAX and LTE support much less than 1 Gbit/s peak bit rate, they are not fully IMT-Advanced compliant, but are often branded 4G by service providers. According to operators, a generation of network refers to the deployment of a new non-backward-compatible technology.
On December 6, 2010, ITU-R recognized that these two technologies, as well as other beyond 3G technologies that do not fulfill the IMT-Advanced requirements, could nevertheless be considered “4G”, provided they represent forerunners to IMT-Advanced compliant versions and “a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed”.
As opposed to earlier generations, a 4G system does not support traditional circuit-switched telephony service, but all-Internet Protocol (IP) based communication such as IP telephony. As seen below, the spread spectrum radio technology used in 3G systems, is abandoned in all 4G candidate systems and replaced by OFDMA multi-carrier transmission and other frequency-domain equalization (FDE) schemes, making it possible to transfer very high bit rates despite extensive multi-path radio propagation (echoes).
The peak bit rate is further improved by smart antenna arrays for multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) communications. New mobile generations have appeared about every ten years since the first move from 1981 analogue (1G) to digital (2G) transmission in 1992.
This was followed, in 2001, by 3G multi-media support, spread spectrum transmission and at least 200 kbit/s peak bit rate, in 2011/2012 expected to be followed by “real” 4G, which refers to all-Internet Protocol (IP) packet-switched networks giving mobile ultra-broadband (gigabit speed) access.
In the mid-1990s, the ITU-R standardization organization released the IMT-2000 requirements as a framework for what standards should be considered 3G systems, requiring 200 kbit/s peak bit rate. In 2008, ITU-R specified the IMT-Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced) requirements for 4G systems.
The fastest 3G-based standard in the UMTS family is the HSPA+ standard, which is commercially available since 2009 and offers 28 Mbit/s downstream (22 Mbit/s upstream) without MIMO, i.e. only with one antenna, and in 2011 accelerated up to 42 Mbit/s peak bit rate downstream using either DC-HSPA+ (simultaneous use of two 5 MHz UMTS carriers) or 2×2 MIMO.
Available Regions as at Post
Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Morocco, Algeria.
China, Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Maldives.
Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkmenistan.
Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Greenland, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Scandinavia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
Canada, Brazil, Mexico, United States.
Fiji, New Zealand, Australia.
The fastest 4G-based standard is the LTE-Advanced (LTE-A). This is an enhanced version of the original LTE standard and includes features such as carrier aggregation, which enables the use of multiple frequency bands to increase download and upload speeds. LTE-A is capable of delivering theoretical download speeds of up to 1 Gbps, although real-world speeds are typically lower. It is worth noting that 5G networks are now available in many parts of the world and are capable of delivering even faster download and upload speeds than LTE-A.