4G LTE: More than just speed

Photo: Shutterstock

In case you haven't heard, surfing on your mobile phone just got faster. After months of waiting, 4G LTE has finally arrived in Brunei, and what better way to celebrate this than by upgrading your existing 3G plan to the new 4G plan at DST (or upgrade to a 4G phone in case you're still using a 3G phone).

So there's been a lot of talk about 4G LTE, and everyone is excited about making this jump, envious that our friends overseas are already enjoying its benefits for quite some time. However, despite hearing a lot about it on the media and on the latest smartphone packagings, most consumers still have little understanding about 4G LTE and what the future holds for them with this new technology.

For now, ask any random person what they think of 4G LTE, and the first thing that comes into mind is simply faster Internet speeds on smartphones. Well, who doesn't want faster Internet speeds on their devices? That's fine and all, but in actual fact 4G LTE is more than just faster speeds.

4G LTE, or Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution, is a network technology for the future, and it's going to be an awesome future, much bigger than the current tech lifestyle we are enjoying today.

Before we go any further, a little history lesson.

The G in 4G stands for generation of wireless technologies. Each generation of wireless technology comes with faster speeds and better performance, and we are now into the fourth generation.

1G, the first generation, was the old analogue cellular systems used during the brick phone days. They're obviously super slow and only supported voice calls.

Next came 2G, which moved cellular systems to digital and the Internet for the first time, though it was still very slow, somewhere around 10 to 200 kbps (kilobits per second). This generation brought us smaller digital phones of the Nokia and Ericsson era, with multiple functions such as text messaging and really basic web browsing.

Then 3G came along and brought us much faster digital cellular systems, giving us speeds starting at around 384 kbps and up to 3.1 mpbs (megabits per second) data throughout on average.

For the first time, 3G gave us full access to the Internet on our mobile phone which you normally experience on a PC (personal computer). It enables us to access our emails, stream online video, make video calls and download apps.

3G ushered in a new era of smartphones that we all use today, and pushed for greater global demand for faster speeds and higher bandwidth.

This demand eventually led to the arrival of 4G, which claims to offer five to ten times faster Internet speeds than 3G.

We're talking download speeds that can go up to 75 mbps. That's insanely fast!

But 4G isn't just faster; 4G tends to have a lot more capacity than 3G networks, so you're going to see a lot less bandwidth caps when you're connected on 4G (which is why you're going to see a lot more higher data plans).

This means that everything you do on your smart devices, which are mainly relying on Internet these days, will be much faster.

You'll be consuming media on your device more. Streaming high definition content and video conferencing will be smoother, with literally no lag on a good day.

Downloading a five-minute video takes about four minutes on 3G, versus less than one minute on 4G. Online gaming on your device will be a much improved experience.

But as I've mentioned earlier, it's not just about the speed. It's how the technology will shape our future lifestyle. The Internet has evolved at an exceptional speed over the recent years, with more than 2 billion people around the globe already connected to it.

With the advent and proliferation of mobile devices, the way we access the Internet has also changed. The number of electronic devices that can be connected to network services has increased dramatically, from tablets to digital cameras to television.

But Internet connectivity is also possible beyond these devices when we have super fast, reliable and more intelligent Internet technology. Hence, the arrival of 4G LTE will enable this extreme communication experience. LTE will usher in a new era of the Internet, also known as the Internet of things (IOT). The future of communications will be about all kinds of things speaking to each other through the Internet.

In a nutshell, every object around us will be connected, collecting, processing and sharing information with a built in a low-cost LTE chip. This can be our refrigerator, and even microwave oven, lamps, running shoes, traffic lights, billboard signs, and car.

These have been coined as smart technologies, and they will improve the quality of our lives, at home, at work or in the city.

The IOT will open up infinite possibilities. Think of smart parking, where you can monitor parking space availability in the city, or smart lighting, where intelligent and weather adaptive lighting in street lights help efficient energy management. These smart technologies will also be used in health, education, agriculture and disaster management, among others.

So once you decide to make the upgrade to 4G, think beyond your need for faster Internet speeds. Think about how it will change the way we live tomorrow so you will have a better grasp of this new technology.

More about