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What you need to know about 4G

Promises 100Mps data-transmission speeds on your mobile phone, but delivery is years away

By , Network World
May 21, 2007 10:30 AM ET

Network World - If you’re wondering what fourth-generation wireless deployments and services mean to you, you’re not alone.

There’s plenty of talk about 4G, particularly since Sprint Nextel last year announced its $3 billion plan to build a 4G, mobile WiMAX network.

But it’s not always clear what all the fuss is about. In a nutshell, users can expect wireless services that support data-transmission speeds as high as, and in excess of, 100Mbps, with the promise of QoS and even traffic prioritization, industry experts say. With such features, it becomes possible to imagine a mobile employee using a cell phone to participate in a video conference or tune into high-quality streaming video.

It won’t come cheap for carriers, however. According to the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), carriers in the United States are expected to spend $4.4 billion on WiMAX infrastructure equipment in 2008. Considering that WiMAX is only one potential 4G standard, industry watchers are expecting carriers to drop a lot of dough on 4G gear.

Still, true 4G services are a long way from delivery. Here are some things you should know about 4G as you look to distinguish the hype from the reality of this next-generation technology.

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