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2G, 3G, 4G, and everything in between: an Engadget wireless primer.

submitted on January 18, 2011 by psplove in "Products / Gadgets"
It's hard to believe nowadays, but in a simpler time, cellphones really were called "cell phones," not dumbphones, smartphones, feature phones, or superphones. They bulged in your pocket -- if they fit in your pocket at all, that is -- and they made calls. That's it. None of this social networking, messaging, browsing, Instagramming, Flash 10.1 nonsense. They didn't upload 5 megapixel photos to Flickr, and they most certainly didn't turn into wireless hotspots.

Of course, those bleak days are mercifully behind us now -- but as carriers around the world start to light up a promising new generation of high-speed wireless networks, things are beginning to get a little confusing. Just what is "4G," anyway? It's one higher than 3G, sure, but does that necessarily mean it's better? Why are all four national carriers in the US suddenly calling their networks 4G? Is it all the same thing? Answering those questions requires that we take a take a little walk through wireless past, present, and future... but we think it's a walk you'll enjoy.

First things first: "G" stands for "generation," so when you hear someone refer to a "4G network," that means they're talking about a wireless network based on fourth-generation technology. And actually, it's the definition of a "generation" in this context that has us in this whole pickle in the first place; it's the reason why there's so much confusion. But more on that in a bit -- first, let's take a trip down memory lane into the primordial ooze that gave rise to the first generation way back in the day.


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  • 97135
    psplove
    professor
    3 1 6
    11 9 2
    Posted by psplove on January 18, 2011
    [reply] 3 0
    The Fastest, Most Advanced 4G Network in America.
  • 97170
    CouponNut
    deity
    23 14 8
    12 10 2
    Posted by CouponNut on January 18, 2011
    [reply] 2 0
    With the "G" generation continually changing, they may need to go to the Nth degree instead.
  • 97296
    honesta
    master
    Posted by honesta on January 18, 2011
    [reply] 3 0
    Everybody's the largest and the fastest. There are some who are "most fastest"
  • 97302
    CouponNut
    deity
    23 14 8
    12 10 2
    Posted by CouponNut on January 18, 2011
    [reply] 1 0
    That what they all say! Big Grin

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