Skip to main content
May 15, 2012

The progression from 3G to 4G

With the Nokia Lumia 900 boasting 4G capabilities, it’s time to look at the progression from 3G to 4G and the technology behind it. Nokia Connects delves deeper.

via Venture Beat

A recent poll found that you, the smartphone-using public, will use 4G for faster internet browsing, and streaming movies and music, but how does it actually work?

Since this is a topic that needs some well-informed and expert attention we turned to Timo Joutsenvirta – Technology Marketing Manager, Smart Devices at Nokia – for his thoughts:

Technical terms associated with connectivity such as RX Diversity & CPC are confusing, can you bust the jargon?

RX Diversity is a feature whereby having two antennas in a device means that the phone is able to always select the antenna that has the best signal quality for optimal reception.
CPC = Continuous Packet Connectivity is a 3G feature that reduces the amount of control messages that the phone is sending to the 3G network thus reducing the amount of interference to the network.

How do these things affect 3G speeds?

RX Diversity is very useful when the signal quality is not optimal (surrounded by tall buildings or middle of lots of interfering electronic equipment). The phone is able to maintain better signal quality which directly affects the download speeds. In best cases the download speeds can be 30% even 50% better with Rx Diversity phones than with phones without this feature. Antenna selection happens continuously so when on the move depending on phone orientation either one of the antennas can be the active one.

CPC affects the uplink speeds when there are many users in the network. The CPC enabled phones cause less interference to the network and everybody in the network (or cell area) get a better quality uplink connection. This means that users are able to faster share a picture on Facebook or other social media in a crowded place. The more CPC-enabled phones a network has, the better off everybody is.

How can Nokia users utilise these to achieve faster speeds on their phones?

These features are built into the phone and network and depending on the operator or phone users can automatically benefit from these features without having to do anything. Like the Nokia Lumia 900 – it has Rx Diversity enabled and users just experience better download speeds.

What about 4G? How will that speed things up?

4G is defined as “Technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to initial 3G”. So by definition it has to offer something better. In practice anything above 14Mbps is considered 4G ranging up to 100Mbps. This means that 4G networks can offer twice, three times and even five times the speed of 3G networks so the picture that took a minute to download can be fetched in twelve seconds. Or you can watch a streaming full HD movie over 4G network. Another thing, often overlooked, is the low latency that 4G especially LTE provide. Low latencies mean better response times which means that 4G technologies don’t only provide faster speeds but also better quality.

What do you see in the future in this area of mobile technology?

We know that we are nowhere near the limits of these technologies. With 4G we now have a true mobile broadband at our fingertips matching wired land line capabilities in every aspect. We are pushing the 100Mbps limit and we will go beyond that. In near future the users do not need to know or care if they are connected wirelessly or via a wired connection. The user experience is indistinguishable. The sky’s the limit when talking about mobile networks and in this case it’s literally true.

In an ideal world, what would you like to see in a phone to make it faster?

As we get more processing power and faster networks the users seem to be the slowest link in the chain. I don’t necessarily need a faster phone… I need a smarter phone. What I would like to see is a phone that adapts to my behaviour and habits and predicts what I need next. This could mean that my phone learns which newspapers and news sites I go through in the morning and has them readily available when I wake up. Or my phone informs if there is a problem on my usual route to work and suggests me a better option. We have fast access to tons of information but finding and digesting it is sometimes overwhelming.

Thanks for that, Timo!

Got any questions about 4G or the Nokia Lumia 900? Let us know in the comments below, or tap up our team on Twitter and we’ll be happy to help (we should wear badges saying this).