Years ago, when cellphones were just starting to be available to consumers, it was pretty easy to pick the right phone. They all worked on a single network, and pretty much just made phone calls and received phone calls. Over the years, though, as technology has advanced, cellphones have gotten smaller, thinner, and been loaded with more features and capabilities. It can get pretty confusing to understand, especially the types of networks that are available. The latest technology, LTE, also used to be limited to folks who were willing to sign a 2-year contract, but with the launch of the Boost Force, HTC One SV, and Galaxy Victory 4G LTE, this technology is available on no-contract plans, as well.
What is 4G LTE?
LTE (Long Term Evolution) is a new network technology, which introduced the opportunity for speeds up to 100Mbit/second, which is much faster than most home cable/DSL connections, and comparable to home Fiber Optic services, such as Verizon FiOS. It’s important to keep in mind that’s the speed at which the technology CAN operate. In real life, most users will see somewhere between 10-30 Mbit/second speeds (which is still just as fast as most home high speed internet services), due to a number of factors, such as how far you are from the tower, how many other people are connected to that tower, the weather, and the landscape around the tower.
We’ll be honest: the 4G part is pretty much just marketing speak. It’s actually not completely accurate, either – there’s a whole backstory that starts with the earliest wireless networks. You can read the full story on Engadget, but what you need to know is that the term ‘4G’ has been used and abused, so it’s not the best way to understand what type of speeds you should expect.
Why do you care?
The biggest benefit of LTE is data – how quickly your phone or tablet can connect to the Internet, and how much data it can download/upload at a time. Similar to switching from dial-up to cable Internet at home, LTE opens up the capabilities to stream video to your phone, using Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, or any other service. It also makes browsing the web significantly faster, with most pages loading in less than a few seconds. Video calling is another option that LTE enables, such as Skype or Google+ Hangouts, and at much higher quality than with 3G.
Another major factor is the upload speeds. This is the speed at which data travels FROM your phone, and is used when you upload photos or videos taken on your phone. As today’s smartphones have 5 megapixel and higher cameras, and can record video in full 1080p HD, a faster upload connection is crucial to make sharing photos and videos from your phone quick, fun, and easy.
As today’s smartphones are increasingly reliant on their data connection, LTE will make that experience better by delivering more data to your phone, and more quickly than 3G or ‘fake 4G’ (HSPA or HSPA+)
For most consumers, it’s important to determine which ‘4G’ technology they’re looking at. All four major carriers in the U.S. have begun to roll out LTE technology across their networks, with AT&T and Verizon leading the charge, and Sprint and T-Mobile rapidly rolling theirs out to match.
At RadioShack, we’re able to help you compare LTE devices from AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, as well as no-contract options such as those from Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, both of whom use Sprint’s LTE network.