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4G – Just Around the Corner Karishma Sundaram | , noon Feb. 19, 2009 2009-02-19

Mobile phones have evolved a great deal from when they when first conceived. Each major change has been marked by a generation. 

The first generation consisted of colossal, partially portable phones, sometimes the size of briefcases. These phones used completely analogue networks, and were usually designed for installation in vehicles. The first generation of mobile phones were so called because they were a departure from the traditional landlines, although they were barely mobile in the true sense of the word. 

The second generation brought about the popular GSM, or Global System for Mobile Communications, and smaller phones. The smaller, more convenient-sized phones became a reality with the introduction of better electronics and more powerful circuitry. The world was also introduced to the wonders of text messaging and personalized ring tones, both of which became such a rage that they remain popular even today. 

The third generation focused on bringing the Internet onto mobile phones. While GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) was introduced in the second generation itself, the third generation was about increasing the speed, the quality and the efficacy of the mobile Internet, trying to match the experience to the better PC-bound one. The third generation brought about EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution). 

The preceding generations spanned a number of years each. In fact, there were inventions that took place during a single generation that were merely denoted by a decimal point. The reason the technology moved through generations was to signify the overhaul of the entire hardware and technology from one generation to make way for the new equipment of the next. A reasonable assumption, therefore, would be that 4G would entail a similar sort of overhaul. 

So what exactly is 4G?

While third generation has a mix of circuit-switched and packet-switched networks, 4G will probably do away entirely with the circuit-switching and rely entirely on the packet-switching.

However, the main foundation of 4G is the pre-eminence of wireless technologies, like WiFi and WiMAX. High speed networks will be a possibility with the implementation of the required hardware and technology. Although this transformation entails a complete revamp of the existing network technology, it could spell out great advantages for the consumer. 

High speed networks will significantly change the use of a mobile phone in the overall system of the Internet. Currently, mobile blogging is the extent of dynamic content that can be directly uploaded from the mobile phone to the World Wide Web. There are sites that accept multimedia content like videos or photographs, but this particular facility is severely handicapped by the data access that is provided by a telecommunications company. 4G will change all that. Not only will these tasks become a viable possibility, the number of high speed networks that a phone can connect to will increase as well. 

4G is expected to roll-out around 2010 to 2012. Apart from the direct repercussions like major upgrades to technology and hardware, the Internet itself will need to be geared up to the momentous extra information that it will have to bear. However, the possibilities are exciting, and perhaps that’s why 4G is sometimes referred to as MAGIC (Mobile multimedia, Anytime/any-where, Global mobility support, Integrated wireless and Customized personal service).

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