It’s a bit dizzying how quickly technologies like smart-phones and the service that goes with them are improving these days. It seems like we’ve just barely gotten used to 3G as a society, that we’re only barely at the point now we’re just about everyone is using 3G services, and suddenly there’s 4G and LTE. And even more than that, some are saying that 5G is getting ready to come out already. So the question is, what is really coming next, and where does all of this end?
The 4G LTE service is what’s happening right now. Services like Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T are currently trying to fully flesh out LTE technology and bring it to the consumers in a more thorough way and quicker than their competitors. The term “4G” just means “fourth generation” in terms of data technology for cellular networks. The “LTE” part stands for “Long Term Evolution.” It’s basically just a short hand way of describing high-speed processes for transferring data over mobile devices. This tech is supposed to be around 4 or 5 times faster than the so-called “3G” technology, so it’s rather a serious upgrade. It’s worth taking a second to think about. It’s only been just a few years since 3G was the absolute best, and suddenly we have a 5 fold upgrade. Data transfer speeds are screaming forward but definitely aren’t anywhere near done yet.
Plans in Motion
There’s a lot of debate online about what counts as “real” 4G and what’s just the beginning of the service. Many people have speculated that technology coming out in the near future will be up to 10 times fast in terms of data transfer than what’s around right now, and that many people will be tempted to call it “5G.” Not only is the technology improving quickly, the rate of improvement seems to be improving as well! Suddenly we have a possible 10 fold increase in just a few years from today whereas it was only a 5 fold increase from the last generation at “3G.”
Society is moving quickly enough now, that some of the old solutions like regular cellphone service are becoming completely free on a limited basis. The program is called LifeLine and it offers benefits like 250 free minutes and 250 free texts per month to people who qualify. It’s definitely a testament to how quickly things are moving that cellphones are considered to basic now that the government is helping people with lower incomes by giving them free phones. This program is right alongside programs like food stamps to give people money to buy food, so cell phones are starting to be seen as a necessity and not something extra.
Overall, the quickly advancing world is pretty mind-blowing. It’s fun to imagine what kind of insane thing we’ll be listening to, watching, or maybe even experiencing in a 3-dimensional environment in the future when the amount of data we transfer makes 2013 look like 1993 and its 100 kilobytes being the huge data of the day.