Info-tech

All you wanted to know about 4G

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 15, 2017 Published on April 11, 2012

What is 4G?

4G is the fourth generation of cellular communications, a successor to current cellular networks known as 3G (third generation). Theoretically, 4G technology can deliver wireless data speeds of up to 100 Mbps but depending on subscriber numbers and network design the actual speeds could be around 30-40 Mbps. In comparison, 3G services give top speeds of 3-4 Mbps. Apart from higher speeds, the technology can help solve the last mile issue that prevents rural areas from getting service.

What are the different flavours?

There are two major 4G technologies – WiMax and Long Term Evolution (LTE). Within LTE, there are two variants- Time Division Duplex (TDD) and Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD). The difference is in the way spectrum is used. Globally, most operators are moving to the FDD version but in India because of the way spectrum was allocated, operators are on TDD version.

How can you access the services?

You need a device that's TDD-LTE ready. It can be a dongle or smartphone or a tablet. Globally, there aren't too many phones or tablets in the market that support 4G technology. Dongles are available but are steeply priced. Apple's new iPad is 4G capable but supports only FDD-LTE in the 700 Mhz spectrum band. The ecosystem has to develop before one can get cheaper access device.

What can you do with 4G?

You can access high speed adapt services such as video streaming, online gaming at 10 times 3G speeds. But you cannot make voice calls yet because of lack of 4G phones. Phones supporting voice over LTE is expected to be launched later this year.

Which operators are in this segment?

Other than Airtel, there are five players planning to launch 4G service. Mukesh Ambani-backed Reliance Industries is the biggest player in the 4G space as it is the only one with spectrum across the country. Then there is Qualcomm, Augere, Aircel, Tikona, BSNL and MTNL. These players are expected to launch services later this year.

> tkt@thehindu.co.in

Published on April 11, 2012
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