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Networking The Internet Wireless Networking

ITU Softens On the Definition of 4G Mobile 45

alphadogg writes "After setting off a marketing free-for-all by effectively declaring that only future versions of LTE and WiMax will be 4G, the International Telecommunication Union appears to have opened its doors and let the party come inside. In October, the global standards group declared that after long study, it had determined which technologies truly qualified for its IMT-Advanced label, sometimes called 4G (fourth-generation). Only two systems made the list: LTE-Advanced, an emerging version of Long-Term Evolution technology, and WirelessMAN-Advanced, the next version of WiMax, also called WiMax 2. Neither is commercially available yet. Stripping the official 4G title from current LTE and WiMax, which both had claimed it, was the perfect foil for T-Mobile USA to wholeheartedly advertise its HSPA+ (High-Speed Packet Access) network as 4G. But in a recent press release about the opening of the ITU World Radiocommunication Seminar 2010, the august United Nations-affiliated agency appears to have caved in."
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ITU Softens On the Definition of 4G Mobile

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  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @02:31AM (#34597664)

    If you have a phone that says its 4G, it's lying.

    But do you really? Think of it this way, most people don't have a clue what 3G is other than that service that lets me view facebook on my phone without waiting a day for the page to load. Most consumers assume 4G is the next iteration of the number, and take it to mean exclusively "the next thing after 3G that will be faster". If marketing companies claim WiMax is 4G, and it is faster who ultimately cares what the specific standards are.

    I mean consumers will buy based on marketing, and sometimes based on the tech specs. If 4G according to the carriers meet a certain speed requirement, then who's the standards body to say that no we'll reserve 4G for something even faster after devices have already started shipping and advertising money has been spent. Ultimately the consumers who are buying their 4G device will get the latest and greatest faster technology and the fact that the definition changes doesn't make their phone suddenly slower.

    I'm glad the ITU apparently caved, the tech world is confusing enough as it is without one term meaning many different things.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 18, 2010 @05:56AM (#34598398)

    First of all, the "-G" codes are quite notable. Transition from 1G to 2G (from analog to GSM) was a massive technological leap. Transition from 2G to 3G was also massive leap (effectively brought usable internet access to mobile devices). The transition from 3G to 4G is supposed to be something comparable to those two: Something that is a massive step forwards in terms of tehcnology and/or really does revolutionize the way we use mobile devices. That being the case, it's pretty simple and useful to look at the devices in terms of what "-G" tier they are... Of course, this assumes that things can't be labeled nG too easily, that there really is some massive (ie: Not just notable. Double or triple the speeds? Notable but nothing revolutionary.) difference between 3G and 4G. It seems that won't be the case anymore...

    That said, I find your statement about the actual speeds of broadbands to be amusing. When it comes to broadbands, we use terms like "unlimited", "speed is [theoretical maxium speed]", etc... We already use those same terms with mobile devices but they're even less useful in that realm as the enviromental variables are greater.

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