3G and 4G –  What’s the difference?

To be classed as 4G, the network must be able to provide a theoretical download speed of up to 100Mbps which is much quicker than the current 3G networks can deliver.  EE (Everything Everywhere) the collaboration between Orange and T-Mobile, puts the theoretical peak speeds for a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service at up to 100Mbps download and 50Mbps upload.

These sorts of speeds are said to be revolutionising the world of mobile technology, but will it be worth the hype?  We asked our CEO Tim for his views.

How did we get here?

The concept behind the first generation of mobile phones was via dial-up where customers would pay per minute of mobile usage at a high price, for a pretty bad connection.  But mobile phones were new and exciting and people didn’t know any different.

Mobiles then evolved with the introduction of 2G where a packet switch was sent across the network and the reply came bouncing back.  This was perfect for mobile networks and a great improvement but it was still quite slow.

Then came 3G, a service trumpeted as the best thing since sliced bread and initially, according to some people who didn’t like sliced bread very much, it was.  It worked well, was much quicker than its predecessors and everyone loved it.  Mobile phones were able to transfer data at much faster speeds and consequently, more sophisticated devices were developed, providing consumers with a much more complex computing ability through their mobile “smartphone” or tablet.

However, as more and more people wanted the faster data speed, inevitably the networks became overloaded and as a result, slowed down, especially in areas of high usage.  An example of this is where the network “Three” sold off cheap packages resulting in decreasing performance as more people joined the network.  The performance of the network became very average and the need for more data centres and increased slots in the existing masts was very apparent.


It’s not economical.  The attitude of the providers seems to be “We’ve won the business so why bother improving the service?”

What do you think about the introduction of 4G?

The 4G service is expensive and it’s likely that it too will slow down as more people jump on the bandwagon.  EE have already admitted that the high speeds cannot always be guaranteed:

“In reality when there are lots of users on the network, these speeds are not achieved. Real-world speeds for 4G LTE networks vary depending on location, number of users, geography and other factors and are anywhere from 4Mbps to 20Mbps,” EE admits.

How will 4G affect Veber and their customers?

I can’t see it having any impact.  A mobile device is designed around a “pick up & read” concept rather than a continuous data feed.  Veber’s hosting capability won’t be affected.

How will 4G affect business in general?

For businesses who use mobile devices to pick up email and download data, then yes of course the faster speed is going to make life easier and enable them to do more.  But at this early stage, where coverage is patchy and cost is disproportionate to the benefit you receive, I really think consumers will be paying a premium for no real benefit.

Will you be upgrading to 4G?

In a word, no!




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