When I got my last cell phone, I wanted to walk into the place and own the salesman. I wanted to make sure he realized I was no fool, that I had done my homework and that I was not to be taken advantage in an effort to get him a bigger commission check at the end of the pay period. I failed on every account, and since then have been searching online daily to get caught up on the new phone lingo, the specs, what definitions of things like "4G" really mean.
People, let me first just say that cell phone companies are about as close to lawyers and insurance salesman as they come. They're corrupt, they take what they can and give nothing back. At least, nothing they don't have to. And with terms like 4G and LTE, they don't have to give much.
The first thing that sold me on my current phone (HTC Inspire 4G) was the 4G part. I had heard of 2G, experienced 3G, and now that 4G was out, it only seemed logical to make it part of my next phone. The second part of my phone that seemed to scream "latest and greatest" was the company AT&T toted 4G coverage in my area, meaning I didn't have to be in SLC, Portland, Seattle, or Las Vegas to get my 4G speeds. And the last thing was the screen size. 4.3 inch screen just made all other phones look a bit redundant.
It was only after I walked out of the store, new phone and service in hand, that I realized a couple mistakes I made assuming that I was truly getting the latest and greatest. First thing I wish I would have known is: the term 4G is simply marketing vapor. There is no clear or specific ruling for what 4G (or 3G or 2G for that matter) actually are supposed to give you as the customer. They may say that 4G is 10x as fast as 3G, but when 3G didn't mean squat to begin with, you really aren't going to be that much better off with 4G. With that being said, the next thing I should have known is the fact that my phone's 4G capability was inhibited by AT&T before I even bought it. Did you catch that? Even if 4G actually meant anything, my phone, though capable, was crippled by AT&T to ensure my phone couldn't reach designed data speed. Why? Simple: They don't have to. Why give me, the customer, what I paid for when it doesn't mean anything anyway and could potentially slow down their servers?
So why did they do it? Well, I think its a bit just natural progression mixed with a domino effect. Naturally any new tweaks they do to 3G can then be manipulated and they can call it 4G, and once one company gets 4G on their phone labels, all must follow suit. You wouldn't walk into AT&T and buy a 3G phone when Sprint is waving a banner around saying they have 4G. Then again, I would hope you wouldn't buy 4G from Sprint at all. They are audacious enough to charge an extra $10 on top of your data per month just for the 4G. Sound fair? Extra $10 for nothing?
As for LTE networks, I imagine as time goes on the guidelines will have to be more clear as to what these terms LTE, and 4G really mean. This article I linked below seems to imply things will be headed that way. But even if they suddenly come out with concrete speeds your phone must be able to maintain to be considered 4G, don't expect that to fix everything. Make sure you ask if your phone is not only capable, but also not handicapped in an effort to keep you from 'bogging down' the servers. They owe it to you. If they say they're 4G, and your phone is a 4G phone, I would like to think they should be giving you full capability, after they decide what the heck it means.
The article put out today by Phonescoop is great, the headline alone cracks me up. I imagine someone coming across it and saying to themselves, "Wait, so 4G never meant anything?" Exactly. Congrats T-mobile for supposedly being the nations largest 'nothing' network.