What is 4G?

Anurag Ghosh

4G, an acronym for fourth-generation wireless, is a type of technology that can be used with cellular phones, wireless computers, and other mobile devices. This technology give users faster access to the Internet than most previous third-generation (3G) networks can offer, and it also offers new user options such as the ability to access high-definition (HD) video, high-quality voice, and high-data-rate wireless channels via mobile devices. In 2009, the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) defined the standards for the successor to 3G: the new technology must provide peak speed for Internet communication at 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for high mobility users, which includes those in cars and trains, and 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) for low mobility users, such as pedestrians or those who are stationary while using their device. Like previous generation technologies, the newest version is not expected to be fully incorporated worldwide for several years.

4G signals are broadcast from specialized towers.
4G signals are broadcast from specialized towers.

New Services

The fourth-generation wireless technology provides a wide variety of services including the option to download, view, and upload high-definition (HD) videos, which could potentially change the way some companies do business; video conferences could become more common, for example. High-quality voice when using a cellular phone is another added benefit of 4G technology, as well as access to high-data-rate wireless channels. 4G is also known as "beyond 3G," since it provides a comprehensive and secure Internet Protocol (IP) solution. Users have access to high-quality streaming video and "anytime, anywhere" voice and data at a much higher speed than previous generations. The "anytime, anywhere" solution of 4G technology is also referred to as "MAGIC," which is an abbreviation for Mobile multimedia; Anytime/anywhere; Global mobility support; Integrated wireless solution; and Customized personal services.

A mobile phone user downloading applications using 4g.
A mobile phone user downloading applications using 4g.


The 4G working group has defined several objectives of the fourth-generation wireless communication standard. This includes a high mobility rate of 100 Mbps between any two points in the world, seamless connectivity allowing users to enjoy global roaming across multiple networks, and support for using high-quality multimedia. Perhaps users will be willing to purchase the technology as it is said to be up to ten times faster than previous 3G options, with broadband accessibility in rural areas that previously lacked high-speed internet capabilities.

A tablet using 4G mobile technology.
A tablet using 4G mobile technology.

The fourth-generation will inter-operate with third generation systems and broadband broadcasting systems; it also intends to integrate fixed wireless access (FWA), wireless local area network (WLAN), wireless local loop (WLL) and personal area network (PAN), to provide fully IP-based wireless internet. When fully implemented, this technology could help create additional markets and opportunities for new and established telecommunication enterprises. A 4G network can potentially open the gates of video blogging on mobile phones when combined with cell phones that are equipped with advanced HD capabilities, or high-quality digital cameras.


With a higher data rate and broader bandwidth capability, 4G technology focuses on providing seamless service across a multitude of wireless networks and systems. Some of the core technologies employed by fourth-generation wireless include Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), Software-Defined Radio (SDR) receivers, Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UTMS), and multiple input/multiple output technologies (MIMO). Together, these technologies could ensure high rates of data transmissions for 4G users, though the availability may not be offered everywhere for several years.

Videos may be streamed and downloaded quickly with a 4G connection.
Videos may be streamed and downloaded quickly with a 4G connection.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


Oh god! in India we just launched 3g which gives speed of 3.1mbps and world is planning for 100Mbps.


can 4g be used in 3g mobile phones and data cards? A.B.


4G using IPv6, mean you only paid for what you used..

In add, with IPv6, NAT is no needed. Every single phone has its own v6 IP address. your IP address for your phone won't change as long as you are in the coverage.


What is 4G actually meant for?


4G is all about the data rates. There are so many uses for mobile broadband internet but it isn't for everyone.

My question has to do with what seems like a serious lack of implementation for high-speed wireless networks in the United States. In Japan, there are satellite services offering gigabit connection speeds that go beyond what is even available with land-line services here in the states. When will we catch up? As a mobile professional, I look forward to being able to send and receive large data files when and where I need them, with out hassles and wires.


I must not be a geek. I use a phone as a phone. The rest is just icing on a cake. Do I need to pay 200.00 a month for a rich cake? No.

Post your comments
Forgot password?