3G vs 4G

There has been more talk about 4G (fourth generation) mobile broadband recently and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN’s) has announced that the first 4G field trials have been completed in Berlin.

As 4G seems to have taken a step closer to reality, I decided to do some research and find out what advantages 4G may offer over 3G. The specifications for 4G are not standardized yet but the following 3G vs 4G table gives an idea of what 4G is likely to provide.

Technology 3G 4G
Frequency band 1.8 – 2.5GHz 2 – 8GHz
Bandwidth 5-20MHz 5-20MHz
Data rate Up to 2Mbps 100Mbps moving – 1Gbps stationary
Access W-CDMA VSF-OFCDM and VSF-CDMA
FEC Turbo-codes Concatenated codes
Switching Circuit/Packet Packet

The existing 3G W-CDMA standard will be replaced in 4G by VSF-OFCDM and VSF-CDMA. VSF-OFCDM allows extremely high downlink connections, both indoors and outdoors. VSF-CDMA provides high-efficiency, high-speed packet transmissions for the uplink.

The 4G adoption of concatenated FEC (Forward Error Correction) will allow much larger data packets to be transmitted and at the same time reduce the bit error rate. This will increase the overall data through-put.

One of the main advantages that 4G technology will have over 3G is higher data rates. This will benefit the end user by allowing faster access to multimedia and video while on the move.

We may still have to wait a while for 4G though, as it looks like 4G networks won’t be launched until 2008 and won’t become widely available until 2010.

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