What Is 4G Technology, and Why Is It More Useful Than 3G?


Quick Answer

4G technology is the fourth generation of networking protocols that govern the flow of data for cell phones via the Internet. The main advantage that 4G technology has over 3G is the improved data transfer, with download speeds being up to 10 times faster.

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Full Answer

Although most carriers ignored the attempt of the International Telecommunications Union to standardize the use of 4G as a label, they eventually agreed to use it to refer to HSPA+ 21/42, WiMAX and LTE protocols. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, and it's the fastest networking protocol among the three. 4G LTE provides a smoother Internet browsing experience when compared to 3G, but it requires a 4G mobile plan, and a phone that is tailored to access a 4G LTE network automatically.

Some wireless service providers, such as Verizon, provide 4G LTE coverage across the entire United States as of 2015, while other providers, including T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint, are still growing their 4G presence. Another advantage of the 4G technology is that 4G smartphones can connect to a 3G network in case 4G LTE is not available. However, downloading and uploading data through a 4G LTE network drains the battery more than doing the same thing via 3G. The 3G technology is also more suitable for users with a limited budget, and those who plan to use their phones mainly for voice communication instead of transferring large files.

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