Saturday, February 5, 2011

This 4G nonsense is getting old....

Typically, I don't pay much attention to advertising. I've already generally made up my mind on what I'm going to purchase before I ever see a commercial about it. For me, anything over $50 is extensively researched to see whether or not it is worthy of purchase. Excessive? Probably, but the economy is in the toilet here and my wallet is empty. So any high dollar item better be worth it. In all my years I've only had a few buyer's remorse from my purchases.

That little diversion aside, this 4G nonsense is getting out of hand. The constant advertising of it feels like the carriers are attempting to beat me over the head with it. The worst part of it all is that it's complete and utter bullshit.

Now, I'm not going to go down the route of whether or not existing technologies like WiMax, HSPA+, and others are 4G. The reason why I'm not going to is because they are. The ITU re-established the guidelines for 4G after certain advancements have been made in tech like HSPA+ which can now exceed 100 Mbps. These techno nerds need to get a life constantly arguing that HSPA+ isn't a 4G tech when the ITU has already declared it so. I can't imagine the level of self-entitlement these people have to believe that they are a greater authority than the ITU.

No, my issue with this nonsense is that the carriers are shoving this crap down our throats like it means something. First, our hardware isn't truly capable of the official definition of 4G which states that the data must maintain 100 Mbps consistently. Right now the best we have (or going to have) is the Samsung Galaxy S 4G at 21 Mbps. Generally, a lot of the "4G" phones out now can only go to 14.4 Mbps.

Secondly, and most importantly, network coverage of 4G isn't really widespread right now. If you live in a 4G city like me then great. Those that don't will never benefit from this technology. The max we have in speed is only 21 Mbps with T-Mobile predicting 42 by the end of this year. Verizon's LTE seems to hover around 30 Mbps. Sprint's WiMax around 10-15 Mbps max. So the technology isn't really ready for prime time right now. You're better off waiting for about three years or so when these technologies start maturing.

Finally, what good is having blazing fast speeds when for one, cell phone browsers typically use data compression needing only a fraction of a desktop browser and screen resolutions aren't to the point that streaming HD video is relevant. Then, you have these draconian data caps that the carriers enforce. What's the point of being able to download at 100 Mbps if I can only reach 2-5 GB of data.

While it seems that the carriers really want to push the whole wireless internet thing with laptops, cell phones are their major forte. Data caps need to be eliminated before 4G matures otherwise its like have a supercar that can only go 30 mph.

Also, Sprint's recent change of adding $10 to all smartphone data plans is suspect if you ask me. Sprint is renting airwaves from Clearwire and this just seems like a stab at paying that bill rather than any arbitrary reason they feed the public.

Long story short, 4G isn't ready for public consumption. The hardware isn't there yet, the signal speed and coverage isn't there, and heavy handed caps on data only enforce the notion that 4G is pointless at this time. Until these things change, don't bother with 4G. You're only spending more money on a service and hardware that will just be outdated. Getting locked into a contract for 2 years with a phone that can only go a fraction of the optimum speed is a joke as well. Just stick with what you have and avoid companies that want to gouge you extra for their "4G".

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