4G (also known as Beyond 3G), an abbreviation for Fourth-Generation, is a term used to describe the next complete evolution in wireless communications. A 4G system will be able to provide a comprehensive IP solution where voice, data and streamed multimedia can be given to users on an “Anytime, Anywhere” basis, and at higher data rates than previous generations.
As the second generation was a total replacement of the first generation networks and handsets, and the third generation was a total replacement of second generation networks and handsets, so too the fourth generation cannot be an incremental evolution of current 3G technologies, but rather the total replacement of the current 3G networks and handsets. The international telecommunications regulatory and standardization bodies are working for commercial deployment of 4G networks roughly in the 2012-2015 time scale. At that point it is predicted that even with current evolutions of third generation 3G networks, these will tend to be congested.
There is no formal definition for what 4G is; however, there are certain objectives that are projected for 4G. These objectives include: that 4G will be a fully IP-based integrated system. 4G will be capable of providing between 100 Mbit/s and 1 Gbit/s speeds both indoors and outdoors, with premium quality and high security.
Many companies have taken self-serving definitions and distortions about 4G to suggest they have 4G already in existence today, such as several early trials and launches of WiMAX. Other companies have made prototype systems calling those 4G. While it is possible that some currently demonstrated technologies may become part of 4G, until the 4G standard or standards have been defined, it is impossible for any company currently to provide with any certainty wireless solutions that could be called 4G cellular networks that would conform to the eventual international standards for 4G. These confusing statements around “existing” 4G have served to confuse investors and analysts about the wireless industry.
The primary goal of the planned 4G cellular services will include the following:
• Interactive Multimedia, Voice, Video Streaming
• High Speed Global Internet Access – VPN Availability
• Service Portability with Scalable Mobile Services
• High Speed, High Capacity, Low Cost Services
• Improved Information Security
• QoS Enhancements
• Multi-Hop Networking
• Spectral Bandwidth Efficiencies (8bits/Second/Hz)
• Seamless Network of Multiple Protocols – 4G must be all-IP*