4G? Don't Worry About It
Cole Brodmann, chief marketing officer at T-Mobile US Inc. said today that "4G is really a shorthand for modern and faster," and I suppose that really is as good a yardstick as any, for the time being.
As we've discussed before, the technical aspects of 4G have been completely overtaken by the massive marketing efforts to be the first with "4G", whatever that might mean. For instance, I'm covering T-Mobile's Investor Day, and they're hanging a good portion of their recovery strategy on having "America's largest 4G network." T-Mobile's network is 3G HSPA+, which is definitely a very fast, state-of-the art network, but not 4G in any technical sense that I understand. (See AT&T Has FauxG Too.)
Then again, the Verizon Wireless LTE network wasn't 4G until the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) changed its tune on what constituted fourth-generation wireless technology in the first place. (See ITU Backtracks on '4G' Definition.)
So, if you're looking for a new phone, tablet or wireless laptop in 2011, my advice is to avoid all the noise about 4G entirely and focus on price and real-world performance. Be a savvy consumer, ask your friends, check message boards and the like to get an idea of coverage. Don't be afraid to bug salespeople about actual performance on applications you know you'll use on the phone. Get any real information you can and sidestep the glossy marketing -- we'll soon start to see which carriers' backhaul networks are up to snuff as they switch on faster services, whatever they want to call them.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile