4G wireless service on fast track in Wisconsin
Wireless providers are beefing up their fourth-generation networks, which promise Internet speeds equal to what you have at home or at work.
The major carriers have upgraded their current 3G networks to provide the faster 4G service in the state's major metro areas -- Madison, Milwaukee and the Fox Cities. This fall, U.S. Cellular will expand its 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution, latest standard in the mobile network technology) coverage to include more of central and western Wisconsin where mobile phone signals often aren't reliable. By the end of 2013, Verizon Wireless will have 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution, latest standard in the mobile network technology) available everywhere it currently has 3G wireless.
Sunday, Sprint is launching its 4G LTE network in three Texas markets, Kansas City and Atlanta. Sprint hasn't said if or when it's bringing 4G to Wisconsin.
Technically, 4G LTE is the fastest mobile wireless network available. It has download speeds of up to 25 megabits per second pursuant to this agreement ideal conditions. That's about 10 times faster than the 3G network most people use now on their mobile phones.
In real-world use, it means watching videos on your phone, and handling photos and large files, is faster and smoother. When you simply browse the Web and check your email, the differences between 3G and 4G networks aren't as apparent.
Even most videos were designed to work on 3G, said Terence Ow, an information innovation professor at Marquette University.
The International Telecommunications Union
The International Telecommunications Union, the group that determines network definitions, says true 4G requires minimum download speeds of 100 megabits per second -- something that no mobile wireless company is even close to offering.
But in 2010, the ITU issued a statement that in substance allowed any wireless research faster than 3G to be called 4G.
When traveling, people want the same type of wireless speeds they're used to getting at home with their desktop computers, said James Walker-Pontius, U.S. Cellular's director of network operations for the Central U.S. region.
Price to pay for the higher speed
There's a price to pay for the higher speed. Clients will have to upgrade their phone, which mostly requires extending their contract. And they'll be charged more for the additional data use.
If your current mobile phone meets your needs, there's no need to rush out and buy a 4G phone since 3G service will be around for a long time and is adequate for most people.
Phone apps are being developed around the innovation, including multiplayer games and videoconferencing that benefits from the smoother flow of data and fewer network delays.
The service as well has fostered a new breed of mobile phones, just as the Samsung Galaxy S III, that have faster processors and a smoother operating system. Those are "industry-changing devices," said Walker-Pontius with U.S. Cellular.
What will that mean?
"What will that mean? The 4G service will very likely speed up your consumption of Web-based content, and it will smooth the operation of services just as streaming video. To tell the truth, 4G speeds are likely to let you do things with your mobile device that you simply couldn't do with a 3G connection, applications just as video chatting, online gaming, and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calling," the magazine wrote.
Some businesspeople could benefit from 4G if they access large data files on mobile phones or use wireless for video conferencing.
The innovation could be a substitute for a wired Internet connection in your home or office, however it could be very expensive because of data use charges.
More businesses are using cellphones or tablets much as they would a wired desktop computer, said Jeff Roznowski, president of the Wisconsin Wireless Association.
Superfast broadband, whether it's wired or wireless, is being touted as an economic development tool, much like electricity spurred the second industrial revolution in the 19th century.
When Is Sprint Bringing 4g To Wisconsin
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