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The Many Faces of 3G

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the propaganda-of-the-ether dept.

Wireless Networking 122

An anonymous reader writes "Did you ever notice how each new generation of cell-phone tech gets branded '3G,' and the previous thing is retroactively downgraded to some lesser number of Gs? An MIT engineer explains why in this brilliant essay about '3G' over the last 10 years, showing how the cell carriers have kept offering it and swiping it away to sell more stuff. He cites numerous Cingular/AT&T and Sprint press releases showing how the companies have made '3G' into a brand name ideally suited for amnesiac consumers. Meanwhile, no cell carrier is foolish enough to sell you bottom-line throughput like an ISP in 1996 — you could actually hold them to that (PDF)."

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Not really... (0)

SDF-7 (556604) | about 4 years ago | (#33317200)

No, can't say I noticed that at all.

Next question?

Re:Not really... (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 4 years ago | (#33317540)

Indeed. I almost feel sorry for the submitter, it's so obvious he hasn't the faintest clue about his chosen subject matter...

Re:Not really... (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#33317596)

No, I've also not seen that. When they introduced GPRS, it was 2.5G. When they introduced UMTS, it was 3G. Then some companies rolled out EDGE because Apple insisted on using ancient crappy standards that everyone else had skipped for compatibility with backwards networks in the USA, and it was 2.75G. Then they deployed various HSPA variations, and they were mostly 3.5G. A few places are deploying LTE or WiMax, and this is 4G, or 3.9G if it doesn't quite meet the requirements of 4G.

2G was well defined, as meaning digital. 4G is also well defined, with features like an all-IP network, 100Mb/s mobile bandwidth (1Gb/s stationary), and so on. 3G is not so well defined, but it's generally understood to mean something in the same category as UMTS.

Maybe the confusion is just a US thing?

Re:Not really... (4, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#33317788)

A few places are deploying LTE or WiMax, and this is 4G, or 3.9G if it doesn't quite meet the requirements of 4G.

Ah, er, what? TFA explains it this way "You might notice that Sprint is currently selling Mobile WiMAX as “4G.” Mobile WiMAX is part of IMT-2000 — the 3G standard. Verizon Wireless is selling something called “LTE” as “4G” — it ain’t in IMT-Advanced either. Today’s “4G” products are like the “3G” of 2002 and 2003 — they will become “3.75G” as soon as the next hot thing comes out."

So, everything called 4G today is a lie vs the ITU spec in IMT-Advanced. Faster than 3g, possibly, but not 4G in any stretch of the imagination (unless you are in sales). Sounds like you've been sold. Give TFA a try, it's a good read!

Re:Not really... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#33317842)

I said:

Maybe the confusion is just a US thing?

You posted lots of articles about US-based companies introducing confusion. Sounds a lot like you're agreeing with me...

Re:Not really... (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#33317992)

OK if you want to make it about that:

The world's first publicly available LTE-service was opened in the two Scandinavian capitals Stockholm (Ericsson system) and Oslo (a Huawei system) on the 14 December 2009, and branded 4G.

Pre-4G != 4G... On either side of the pond.

Re:Not really... (5, Insightful)

Gruturo (141223) | about 4 years ago | (#33317928)

2G was well defined, as meaning digital. 4G is also well defined, with features like an all-IP network, 100Mb/s mobile bandwidth (1Gb/s stationary), and so on. 3G is not so well defined, but it's generally understood to mean something in the same category as UMTS.

Maybe the confusion is just a US thing?

Indeed this confusion seems to be a US thing. On the other side of the pond, probably thanks to a much more uniform standard, there is no doubt about what a 3G phone is, and noone (that I'm aware of) even considered trying to pass a non-3G phone for one.

Anyway it never ceases to amaze me how much you guys let your telcos rob you blind (not claiming it doesn't happen here - far from it - but your average bill is like 3 times ours, and the dollar is weaker atm), lie to you, tie you into years of awful contracts with hefty termination fees, pull all sorts of crap (aided by mutually incompatible standards which also make your handset useless if you want to change carrier), delay upgrades by years, remove functions like tethering or data connections from phones which are created with them, etc.

AT&T is posting record revenues [yahoo.com] in times of recession and yet skimping on needed upgrades to its insufficient network, I wonder how come there isn't an angry mob at their door.

Re:Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33318776)

That would be thanks to our "government"

Re:Not really... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | about 4 years ago | (#33319848)

and noone

Who the hell is Noone, and why didn't you capitalize his name?

Re:Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33318036)

If you're from the US, then maybe the confusion is just a US thin, otherwise, no..

Let's start with this 3G=UMTS bullshit. And also "3G is not so well defined". 3G is quite well defined, by ITU-2000. Which specifically includes EDGE. So you're simply wrong on both points.

And of course, in your view, Apple's crap may run the world -- no doubt because the first you heard of EDGE was a million fanbois justifying why "3G" (UMTS) was an anti-feature, but in reality, Apple really only "controls" the media, not the wireless carriers. EDGE was rolled out to almost all GPRS towers by all carriers long before the iPhone -- in many cases,going from GPRS to EDGE is just a firmware upgrade, and in any case relatively cheap vs. UMTS, and even if they jumped straight to UMTS, adding EDGE simultaneously is practically free.

Of course, that's why the whole "xG" thing is rather useless -- while EDGE, being just a modulation/bitrate kick to GPRS, clearly belongs in the same generation as GPRS, and UMTS (and HS[UD]PA, which is to UMTS as EDGE is to GPRS) to the next, the actual standards draw the lines in rather arbitrary places, causing needless confusion that only benefits carriers looking for stupid marketing (such as selling EDGE as 3G, then later selling UMTS as 3G).

Re:Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33318226)

No, I've also not seen that. When they introduced GPRS, it was 2.5G. When they introduced UMTS, it was 3G. Then some companies rolled out EDGE because Apple insisted on using ancient crappy standards that everyone else had skipped for compatibility with backwards networks in the USA, and it was 2.75G. Then they deployed various HSPA variations, and they were mostly 3.5G. A few places are deploying LTE or WiMax, and this is 4G, or 3.9G if it doesn't quite meet the requirements of 4G.

2G was well defined, as meaning digital. 4G is also well defined, with features like an all-IP network, 100Mb/s mobile bandwidth (1Gb/s stationary), and so on. 3G is not so well defined, but it's generally understood to mean something in the same category as UMTS.

Maybe the confusion is just a US thing?

I'm sorry, but I'm 38 and I've been following computer and technology acronyms since 1981. And all those damn cellphone terms just make my head hurt.

The fact that carriers are assholes for differentiating between voice, messages and data when it's all data anyway is just icing on the "I don't want a fucking cellphone" cake.

Re:Not really... (1)

KshGoddess (454304) | about 4 years ago | (#33318358)

I'm sorry, but I'm 38 and I've been following computer and technology acronyms since 1981. And all those damn cellphone terms just make my head hurt.

Welcome to my world. I'm an IP admin in a wireless telecom company. I thought everyone had abandoned telnet years ago, but it's alive and kicking in telecom.

Re:Not really... (1)

el_nino (4271) | about 4 years ago | (#33318408)

I can add that back in 1999 or so, before GPRS was rolled out,I did some work for Ericsson with regards to GPRS here in Sweden. We never did talk about any 2.5G at that time. I think that 2.5G is sort of like a backronym, despite not being an acrynom. No one called GPRS 2.5G before the services called 3G were introduced.

As I remember it, we considered GPRS to be somewhat akin to wireless ISDN. This is all hazy recollection though, all the documentation I used to have would be under NDA even if I could find it today.

I Want ... (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 4 years ago | (#33317234)

I want the 3 G's ... and the WiFi's ... and the G-B's ... obligatory youtube video [youtube.com]

Re:I Want ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33317642)

It's the BIGGER GBs you fool! Getting merely 'the GBs' is a trap!

Re:I Want ... (1)

OlRickDawson (648236) | about 4 years ago | (#33317826)

As long as it's not the heebeegeebees. I hate it when I get that.

Re:I Want ... (1)

morphotomy (1655417) | about 4 years ago | (#33318024)

Yes, once we let them take 24 megs off a GB, they'll never stop trying to shave more off.

3G/4G (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 4 years ago | (#33317244)

Somebody drop some straight science on this geezer. Y'all yak "3G" like y'all know what it means. What the heck does it mean? I only vaguely get that it's provides bit faster data service. Rummaging through Wikipedia only muddle things up further by delving into various optional protocols.

Re:3G/4G (-1, Offtopic)

PocariSweat1991 (1651929) | about 4 years ago | (#33317462)

"3G" is how y'all in the South write shorthand for "did you eat, did you eat, did you eat?"

Re:3G/4G (0, Offtopic)

operagost (62405) | about 4 years ago | (#33317784)

d'jeet yet?

Re:3G/4G (-1, Offtopic)

XanC (644172) | about 4 years ago | (#33317978)

No, d'jou?

Re:3G/4G (0, Offtopic)

dgatwood (11270) | about 4 years ago | (#33318684)

Catholic. Thanks for asking.

Re:3G/4G (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33317600)

>>>What the heck does it mean?

Whatever the companies want, apparently. RTFA and you'll see: "In 2002, I got my first cell phone. "You want this one," said the salesman at the RadioShack, pointing to a sleek model then on sale. "It's a 3G phone. It'll work with Sprint's new 3G network they're rolling out later this summer." (image shows phone has 3G on it) "A few months later -- I called Sprint and tried to subscribe. "Sir, you need a 3G phone to sign up," they told me. "I have one!" I said proudly. "It says 3G CDMA right on the back!" "Oh, I'm sorry sir. We've changed the labeling of that model. That phone doesn't have true 3G. If you like I would be happy to sell you the next model, the SCP-6400, which has true 3G."

LAWSUIT.

False advertising, misleading technical description, bait-and-switch. Of course nothing happened. Nobody ever bothered to sue Sprint in 2002, and they should have. I honestly don't understand people who allow themselves to be ripped off like that, and do nothing to recover the money and/or get a replacement Working model that matches what was originally advertised.

Re:3G/4G (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33317648)

[correction]

Nobody ever bothered to sue [Radio Shack] in 2002, and they should have. I know I wouldn't have stood for it. I would have found some way to get my money back, or a free 3G phone that worked with Sprint, since that's what I was told I was getting. But no. Instead people just allow themselves to get screwed and never fight back against the megacorps.

Re:3G/4G (2, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 4 years ago | (#33317914)

Probably because justice in the U.S. costs way more than $30.

Re:3G/4G (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33318004)

True but a credit card dispute costs nothing. "Hello? Yes I would like to dispute a charge. I was sold this phone with the explicit warranty that it was 3G and would work with Sprint's network. But it never has worked with Sprint's 3G network."

"Thank you sir, and did you contact the store?"

"Yes. They refused to help me."

"Okay. Return the phone and make sure you get tracking to prove it was returned. We will investigate this and then refund the money back to your credit card, after the tracking shows the phone was returned."

(later)

Ahhh I see they refunded the 30 dollars. Fantastic. You see: Credit cards also provide warranties, and they require their partners (stores) to be honest in their dealings with customers. If the store has violated that contract then the money will be sucked out of the store's account, and put back into yours.

Re:3G/4G (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 years ago | (#33318410)

Probably true, but you didn't ask why didn't they have the credit card charge it back, you asked why they didn't sue.

Re:3G/4G (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33318046)

Yep. Your lawsuit would get rolled in with a bunch of other people suing for the same thing and turned into a class-action suit. When the class-action suit is won, you get a few months of service discounted 10-15% instead of a new phone.

Re:3G/4G (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about 4 years ago | (#33318606)

"Nobody ever bothered to sue Sprint in 2002, and they should have. I honestly don't understand people who allow themselves to be ripped off like that..."

I do. Many people are simply too lazy to sue.

Most of the people that I talk to on this subject think you need to wait for class-action suits to hop on the bandwagon. You do not.

Instead, file a personal damages suit in small claims in the same jurisdiction the object/service was purchased. It usually cost $5-$25 to file, and get this...the lawyers from these companies rarely show up. Why do they rarely show up? Because the damages cap in small claims is usually $5000--less then it would cost to fly a lawyer out. The noise over them failing to pay judgments would be louder then the noise of them writing relatively small checks, so they just write the small checks and go about business as normal--continuing to rip people off.

Re:3G/4G (2, Informative)

eln (21727) | about 4 years ago | (#33317948)

It seems like it means different things in different contexts, and serves as a great lesson as to why you shouldn't use technical project names for your marketing efforts. 3G is a defined technical standard, but the same term is used in marketing to mean a different thing. According to the article, the technical term 3G could be applied to many cell networks, including EDGE, as well as the more current networks that are usually just called "3G". So, while people who pay attention to such things would notice that the actual 3G spec has been out and in use well before the existing 3G-labeled networks (and was in fact used in the previous generation networks), most people would say EDGE is 2G and our current networks are 3G, and the stuff that's just being rolled out now is 4G.

To the consumer, 2G means slow data rates, 3G means faster data rates, and 4G means even faster data rates, and that's it. They should think that, that's how it's been marketed to them. To cell network engineers, apparently, those terms mean something entirely different. Seems like a lesson in the value of not reusing the same terms for engineering and marketing.

Re:3G/4G (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | about 4 years ago | (#33319866)

It's a very loose set of standards. When the standards are loose, things get fudged a long, long way.

Bottom line throughput (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 4 years ago | (#33317274)

...no cell carrier is foolish enough to sell you bottom-line throughput like an ISP in 1996

Metro PCS? It's cheap, but I dropped every single call I ever made on their antique phones before I switched.

Bandwidth reasons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33317286)

Isn't 3G on a recent network like an automatic bandwith limitation? There are modems that operate at another "G" that also compete on the Service Network for bandwidth, and they're generally cheaper than buying a Cell Phone to make phone calls. Sprint has a couple made through Sierra, some USB dongles for the Cell "G" networks and a couple others that are WIFI-only like a HUB without LAN.

Re:Bandwidth reasons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33318418)

Operate at another "G"...

roflwut?!

If you're talking about Sprint/clearwire's "4G", that's mobile WiMAX -- while there's no end of debate as to whether it's true 4G or not, it's the only presently rolled out tech that's even close. LTE is in similar dubious territory, but isn't publically available anywhere I know of. All the other carriers' data-only offerings are HSPA-family (sometimes referred to as 3.5G), which is solidly in the 3G bracket, and delivers the exact same speed as high-end phones on the same network.

I have often wondered about this. (2, Insightful)

maillemaker (924053) | about 4 years ago | (#33317288)

From the article:

>What we really ought to care about is the same as with any Internet service provider -- the throughput
>and latency and reliability you get to the endpoints you want to reach. That's what matters, not the
>sophistication of one piece of the puzzle.

I have often wondered about all the marketing jargon floating about cell phones, and about people who go ga-ga about how their cell phone browses the internet.

Every phone I've tried browsing the web on makes me just about cry with frustration - I feel like I'm back in college with a 2400 baud modem again.

When you shop for an ISP you shop based on best-effort advertised upload and download rates.

Cell phones should be the same way.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 4 years ago | (#33317764)

Word, dude... watching mobile phones discover the internet seems like watching the whole industry go back to where it was 10 years ago. They're even re-making all of the same mistakes, like proprietary lock-in, little to no cross-platform compatibility, lame security models... what fun it is to play the prophet for the next generation :-P

Re:I have often wondered about this. (-1, Flamebait)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33317866)

>>>Every phone I've tried browsing the web on makes me just about cry with frustration - I feel like I'm back in college with a 2400 baud modem again.

Exaggerate much? The 2400 baud* modem you're talking about is a 2k connection. That's slow enough you can see the text scroll across the screen. I doubt your cell is anywhere near that slow. Voice calling alone requires at least 8k data rate to produce intelligible speech, and most phones will provide greater than dialup speeds (>50k).

My local ISP which I've considered joining says they provide upto 1,400,000 wireless..... almost three orders of magnitude higher than a 2400 bps modem. Have you tried installing Opera Mini web browser? It uses text/image compression to speed things up.

*
* Trivia: The baud rate is actually 600... with 4 bits per symbol.

   

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33317962)

"I doubt your cell is anywhere near that slow."

don't assume what other people do or do not know. exactly because voice data requires a certain specific minimum throughput, it is given a higher priority. cell phone data and cell phone voice go over different channels, as well. and cell phone data in the US is absolute garbage. if cell phone voice performed as badly as data, then people WOULD have something to complain about, and have grounds for lawsuits. this is why cell phone voice works fine.

data, on the other hand, is horrid. i agree with the person whom you're trying to tell what they are or are not experiencing: that cell phone data connections in the US are an absolute joke.

and compression? really? that's your solution? please stop talking, now. you're not helping, and have quite missed the point.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33318072)

>>>don't assume what other people do or do not know.

Okay. Let's assume the guy is correct, and the speed is the same as a 2400 bps modem. At that rate the typical 700 kilobyte webpage (like slashdot) would take nearly an HOUR to view. Do you think the guy's connection was really the slow?

Neither do I. I think he was exaggerating. A lot.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | about 4 years ago | (#33318162)

If I recall correctly, I was getting at least 350,000bps on ATT's 3G, fast enough for everything I need other than high-res youtube.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 4 years ago | (#33318200)

He said that he feels like he's back in college with a 2400 baud modem, not that the data rate of his phone is 2400 baud. That is an important distinction to make.

When he was in college, there were very few 700k webpages that he'd want to look at, they were much smaller because everyone had slow connections. They weren't small enough that they would load in the same time as a modern page on a modern connection, they still took a significant time to load.

There's the connection, loading a (modern) page on a phone today takes about as long as loading an old page on an old connection. Advocating compression also seems to take us back to where we were several years ago, when everything we wanted to download came in a compressed volume just so people would be able to download it in a reasonable time.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33318356)

>>>He said that he feels

Oh well that makes it okay then. :-) If I say I "feel" that government taxation is too high, I don't have to actually prove it, or back it up with numbers do I? Maybe I am being anal but I simply thought the poster should be corrected when he said his cellphone was as slow as a 2 kbit/s line.

His comment was as "off" as if I were to say the national debt is $13 billion. (Hint: It's actually trillion.) Or if I said the EU lies about 3 miles away from the US. Or it only took the astronauts 0.003 days to reach the moon. Or 1000 + 1000 = 2.

I mean: 2400 is really, really slow. We're talking Commodore=64 slow. I doubt anybody's cellphone literally takes an hour to download a webpage.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 4 years ago | (#33318838)

No, you don't have to prove that you feel government taxation is too high. Your opinions may differ from others, but that may or may not affect how you feel.

Also, if you read more than the first 4 words of my previous comment, you'll find out a little more about why people may feel that way.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33318404)

>>>and compression? really? that's your solution? please stop talking, now

If you have a limited bandwidth line, like dialup or cellphone, compression is a perfectly viable solution to the problem. It's why Opera added it to their version 10 of their browser. It's why it's used for HD Radio, and HDTV, or on youtube, or on DVD/Bluray movies.

For you to imply that compression should not be considered a solution is silly.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1)

ckaminski (82854) | about 4 years ago | (#33318130)

Except 10 years ago you COULD browse the web over a 14.4K modem.

Nowadays, you get 100K in just javascript tracking beacons.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33318642)

I was staying in a hotel in Michigan where I literally had a 19.2k connection.

Yes it was still possible to browse the web at that speed, but only with text/image compression turned on (increases effective speed to 190). Without that it would have been horrible. The best connection I was able to get was 26k, and it was at that speed I downloaded the latest episodes of Stargate and Galactica. Sloooow.

Fortunately I only had to stay there one month, and then I moved to a new hotel with cable internet (~1000 k)

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#33318186)

So our cell phones will be advertised as:

Up to 100MB/s for data

and

Up to 3 active voice connections at a time!

and what we'll REALLY get is 200-300k speeds for data on a good day, and one active voice connection that works ... sometimes.

No thanks.

Just like home internet. (1)

maillemaker (924053) | about 4 years ago | (#33318338)

>and what we'll REALLY get is 200-300k speeds for data on a good day, and one active voice connection that works ... sometimes.

But this is exactly how it works with home internet.

You can't hold an ISP to download/upload speeds because in the end we are all on a shared pipe. But we should at least have a ballpark to work with. It's generally understood when you buy home ISP service that the advertised rates are _maximums_.

I would like to see phones advertised similarly.

Re:Just like home internet. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33318456)

The US Congress should require them to advertise a minimum.

So if they want to say, "Upto 1000 kbps," that's fine but they also have to add, "Guaranteed throughput of 500 kbps, or you'll receive a one day credit on your bill for each occurrence."

Re:Just like home internet. (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about 4 years ago | (#33318874)

The problem with that is that the ISP can't control anything outside of their network. Sure, if you can show that the bottleneck is within the area they control then the minimum works great—but what if it's the other end that's slowing things down, or congestion outside of the ISP's network? How is the ISP supposed to guarantee that you will always be able to receive 500 kbps from any given server?

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33318550)

>>>Every phone I've tried browsing the web on makes me just about cry with frustration - I feel like I'm back in college with a 2400 baud modem again.

That means it would take nearly an Hour to download a single webpage, like slashdot. (800,000 bytes == 6,400,000 bits / 2000 bps (actual throughput of 2400 baud modem) == 3200 seconds == 0.9 hours.)

That's hella slow! No wonder you're bitchin' about your lousy cellphone service. I would be too.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33318648)

There are 3 reasons browsing on many phones sucks.

1. High latency. This is a real problem -- GPRS has horrible latency, EDGE improves throughput, but does nothing for latency. UMTS family has slightly improved latency, but still horrible. (And it only gets worse as your cell is more congested...) The bandwidth (which with HSU/DPA is quite decent) doesn't matter that much when RTTs are as much as a half second... our faces grow wizened with age as our complex pages load over a dozen or more roundtrips.

2. Slow CPU. This used to be a problem -- your phone has to parse the HTML received, which might take a while on a 200MHz chip running a timesharing system (which all modern phone OSes are, regardless of whether they expose multi-tasking to the user). This adds to the effective RTT. Limited RAM may mean limited buffers, which may require one (slow) HTTP transaction at a time, making us all grow lengthy white beards. Most phones these days are >600MHz ARMs with plenty of RAM, and get by reasonably well, given a decent browser.

3. Crap browser. Desktop browsers are bloated. Mobile browsers that aren't stripped down desktop browsers are crippled. Many mobile browsers based on desktop browsers are crippled and bloated. Even though this is (usually) less shown up in the effective RTT (which adds multiplicatively to the page loading time), even a one-time page-rendering delay of an extra couple seconds, coupled with laggy zoom, slow javascript engine, etc. all do contribute to a general feeling of OMG I'm an old man! Will this page load already? Get off my lawn!

Try an N900 (the default browser is OK, but maybe try Tear or Chromium for real snappiness) or one of the late crop of high-end Android phones, in an area with good signal and little traffic (around 0400 most traffic has died down -- if you're a night owl like me, it's actually pretty cool then). I think you'll find they do surprisingly well.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (1)

Tikkun (992269) | about 4 years ago | (#33318728)

Every phone I've tried browsing the web on makes me just about cry with frustration

Have you tried an iPhone? How about a Nexus One? There are a ton of phones that do a great job of browsing the web.

Re:I have often wondered about this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33319546)

Jesusphone doesn't help when the wireless network is congested.

4G? (-1, Flamebait)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 4 years ago | (#33317294)

Did you ever notice how each new generation of cell-phone tech gets branded '3G,'

No. Especially since this iPhone 4G thing came out. It was in the news, you might have heard about it.

Re:4G? (1, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | about 4 years ago | (#33317346)

Did you ever notice how each new generation of cell-phone tech gets branded '3G,'

No. Especially since this iPhone 4G thing came out. It was in the news, you might have heard about it.

I've got some news for you...
You might want to sit down... ...and make sure you've got a black turtleneck to wipe your manboy fanboi tears with...

Re:4G? (4, Informative)

Flea of Pain (1577213) | about 4 years ago | (#33317348)

Uhhh, wasn't that the iPhone 4, not the iPhone 4G?

Re:4G? (5, Informative)

zorg50 (581726) | about 4 years ago | (#33317422)

The Sprint HTC EVO is 4G, but the iPhone 4 is definitely not 4G. You might want to pay more attention, especially if you plan on being a sarcastic douche about it later.

Re:4G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33317892)

The Sprint HTC EVO is 3G [Wimax not being genuine 4g], but the iPhone 4 is definitely not 4G. You might want to pay more attention, especially if you plan on being a sarcastic douche about it later.

Fixed that for ya!

Re:4G? (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 4 years ago | (#33318042)

The Sprint HTC EVO is 4G...

Except it isn't. You should read the article, it's good.

Re:4G? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 4 years ago | (#33319356)

Except it isn't. You should read the article, it's good.

You mean. Except, it isn't yet. The Wimax Forum has applied for the 4G label from the International Telecommunications Union - Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R). That application/proposal hasn't been accepted yet, but there is really no reason it shouldn't. 4G may be a so-called standard, but the International Telecommunication Union and its working group does treat it more like it's a brand than a real standard.

Re:4G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33318146)

At least here (Israel) iPhone IS marketed as 4G...

Re:4G? (1)

Joe Snipe (224958) | about 4 years ago | (#33318320)

I'm not one to procrastinate. I'll be a sarcastic douche about it now!

Re:4G? (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 4 years ago | (#33317430)

No. Especially since this iPhone 4G thing came out. It was in the news, you might have heard about it.

The iPhone 4 supports 3.5G (HSPA+)
http://www.google.com/search?q=3.5g+iphone+4 [google.com]

4G is the new 3G
It's all just marketing talk and the details are buried in the fine print

Re:4G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33317840)

These half-generations are retarded. Who the hell is the idiot behind those terms?

Re:4G? (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 4 years ago | (#33317436)

I'm sorry, did you mean the HTC EVO 4G?

Or the Iphone 4, which in spite of its shininess and hype, is still 3G?

Re:4G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33317616)

*psst: So's the HTC EVO. It's just newer 3G.*

Re:4G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33317692)

haha you dumb apple fanboi cunt bitch! you got servedddddddd

Re:4G? (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 4 years ago | (#33318704)

Hahaa! You're all absolutely right! I stand corrected and I'll get my coat!

3G and 4G is consumer friendly (0)

alen (225700) | about 4 years ago | (#33317312)

how many people know what UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+,HSUPA, CDMA, WCDMA mean? even a lot of the tech enthusiasts who think ATT is on GSM don't know that AT&T is using a form of CDMA. i saw it in the Nexus One settings on the internet where the network says WCDMA.

Re:3G and 4G is consumer friendly (2, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#33317418)

...

You saw a picture on the Internet from some Android dev phone that said WCDMA on it ... and so you inferred from that ... that AT&T doesn't use GSM, it uses CDMA ...

You are, without a doubt, an idiot.

Considering the number of times I've carried my phone between AT&Ts network and Europe ... and simply swapped sim cards ... or that the frequencies the AT&T phones all use are GSM freqs ... or ... you know what, why bother ... you saw some image on the Internet, it must be true, everyone else must be confused.

Re:3G and 4G is consumer friendly (1, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 4 years ago | (#33317586)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W-CDMA_(UMTS) [wikipedia.org]

dumbass, W-CDMA is used around the world and is commonly called UMTS which the iPhone and Nexus One support. GSM was coined back in TDMA days and it's just the name of a worldwide governing body, not a technical standard. Verizon's version of CDMA is an upgraded version of CDMA2000

Re:3G and 4G is consumer friendly (5, Informative)

mac.man25 (988406) | about 4 years ago | (#33317846)

Yes, new "GSM" phones (phones that use SIM cards) use W-CDMA. That doesn't mean they use "CDMA", even if they use that modulation. Can Verizon use an iPhone? They use the same frequencies. Oh, they can't? Oh, it must not be "CDMA" then.

It is common to refer to phones that us SIM cards as "GSM" phones, because they work on networks that are GSM. And it is common to refer to phones that use no SIM cards as "CDMA", because they work on networks that are CDMA. So you're still an idiot, you may be right, but you're still an idiot.

Re:3G and 4G is consumer friendly (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 4 years ago | (#33318452)

...forgetting iDen, of course, which is trying to die. But the heavy users don't seem to want it to, and useful PTT is still very important to them, and PTT sucks on all other technologies.

What iDen does, it does very well, and nothing else compares. Oh,and you get Nascar! Weee!

Re:3G and 4G is consumer friendly (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#33318218)

I'm fully aware of that, I'm also fully aware that CDMA is not WCDMA and vice versus. If there were the same thing they'd not have different names and different pages would they?

You and the original poster seem to think WCDMA and CDMA are the same thing. They aren't, thats why we call them different names.

Re:3G and 4G is consumer friendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33317524)

how many people know what UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+,HSUPA, CDMA, WCDMA mean? even a lot of the tech enthusiasts who think ATT is on GSM don't know that AT&T is using a form of CDMA

Apparently, neither do you.

Re:3G and 4G is consumer friendly (1)

red_dragon (1761) | about 4 years ago | (#33317650)

[E]ven a lot of the tech enthusiasts who think ATT is on GSM don't know that AT&T is using a form of CDMA. i saw it in the Nexus One settings on the internet where the network says WCDMA.

Waaaaah, I saw it on dem dere innernets so it must be true...

W-CDMA is the most common form of UMTS [wikipedia.org] , what is typically sold as "3G". The 2G part of AT&T's wireless network is indeed firmly rooted in GSM [gsmworld.com] .

"3G" has always been meaningless (2, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | about 4 years ago | (#33317386)

They didn't "make 3G into a brand"; it has always BEEN a marketing label. There is no such thing as a "3G" wireless signal, rather there are various (existing and emerging) modulation techniques which collectively exist under the 3G label. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3G#Overview [wikipedia.org]

Moreover, the signal is the phy layer. The fact that you have a 3G signal doesn't guarantee any minimum performance, any more than having a gigabit NIC guarantees a fast internet connection. It only defines the upper boundary of performance.

Re:"3G" has always been meaningless (1)

demigod (20497) | about 4 years ago | (#33317534)

The fact that you have a 3G signal doesn't guarantee any minimum performance...

Well it provides for a sort of minimum performance. The wikipedia article to which you linked claims it does anyway.

From the first paragraph;

a 3G system must allow simultaneous use of speech and data services, and provide peak data rates of at least 200 kbit/s according to the IMT-2000 specification.

Re:"3G" has always been meaningless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33317678)

From the first paragraph;

a 3G system must allow simultaneous use of speech and data services, and provide peak data rates of at least 200 kbit/s according to the IMT-2000 specification.

Except on Sprint.

Re:"3G" has always been meaningless (2, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#33317936)

From the first paragraph;

a 3G system must allow simultaneous use of speech and data services, and provide peak data rates of at least 200 kbit/s according to the IMT-2000 specification.

Except on Sprint.

And Verizon. Where is the class action suit considering that more than half of the "3G" phones in the US (those held by Verizon and Sprint subscribers) are not really 3G despite being labeled as such?

Re:"3G" has always been meaningless (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 4 years ago | (#33319100)

Read it again: peak data rates of at least 200 kbit/s. Peak.

It's a the minimum height of the ceiling, not the floor.

What about Sprint? (4, Informative)

quanticle (843097) | about 4 years ago | (#33317428)

Sprint, at least is calling its LTE [wikipedia.org] network "4G", as it rolls it out.

As I understand it:

  • 1G = Analog transmission from phone to tower
  • 2G = Digital transmission from phone to tower
  • 3G = CDMA2000/UMTS
  • 4G = 700MHz LTE

As I see it, the xG shorthand is a way to track the evolution of the network, link level, and physical layers. Every time one of those changes, you get a new "generation" of cell phones.

Re:What about Sprint? (2, Insightful)

AndrewNeo (979708) | about 4 years ago | (#33317474)

(Sprint is WiMax)

Re:What about Sprint? (1)

quanticle (843097) | about 4 years ago | (#33317614)

I stand corrected.

Re:What about Sprint? (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 4 years ago | (#33317478)

Sprints been calling Clear's wimax network 4G too.

Thank god consumers have short memories.

Re:What about Sprint? (2, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | about 4 years ago | (#33317660)

Sprint is working on 4G WiMax, which is a completely different thing than LTE. Everyone else (Verizon, AT&T) are going to be moving to LTE, and Sprint [1] has made random mentions of supporting LTE eventually as well. T-Mobile is going to be moving to LTE, but as of now, they are getting their "3.5G" stuff[2] out there in the interim.

My hope: The cell companies get a ton of tower sharing agreements and get LTE deployed widely. Not just metro areas, but in the sticks where I get almost no coverage, or if I do get coverage, it will be GPRS. This way, we can dispense with devices that have two versions of GSM 3G, CDMA devices with no R/UIM, iDen stuff, and just have phones that "just work" regardless of provider.

[1]: Sprint has a lot of wireless networks. CDMA, GSM (for people traveling abroad with "world phones" that have dual radios), iDEN, WiMax, and LTE. Just the fact they have so much real estate makes them going to be in business 5-10 years from now.

[2]: It can be argued that HSPA+ is faster than Sprint's WiMax. The main differences is that HSPA+ has two channels, one for voice, and one for data, and 4G does VoIP and puts everything as data.

Re:What about Sprint? (1)

RapmasterT (787426) | about 4 years ago | (#33317674)

You understand incorrectly. there is no body of standards that defines what xG means. It loosely translates to the network evolution, but nobody can call bullshit on anyones claims to a specific incremental use of xG because it's meaningless. REAL standards have names, bogus marketing bullshitters use G's.

Re:What about Sprint? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33318734)

Well, It's easier to refer to than to IMT Advanced.

But yes, Wi-Max and LTE aren't actually 4G atleast according to the IMT Advance specification. And ofcourse the iPhone 4 doesn't help the matter with their own naming scheme.

Re:What about GSM? (2, Informative)

rwa2 (4391) | about 4 years ago | (#33318826)

Meh, the business bullshitters in charge also use the G, mostly to stand for "Generation". So the parent is mostly correct in that context.

Verizon / Sprint started as CDMA (code division multiple access, GPS satellite signals also use this) networks, vs. everyone else who started as GSM use TDMA (time division multiple access).

In CDMA, all units basically transmit on the same wide frequency, but have a unique code to distinguish their signal from others. In TDMA, all the units get timeslices (~120 per second) and narrower frequency bands, and transmit bursts of packets during their allotted timeslice. That's why you can hear GSM phones cause audible humming (apparently at 217Hz) when you place them near an amplified speaker. Also made GSM phones theoretically more energy efficient, since they don't have to broadcast the carrier wave the entire time they transmit.
http://www.smartdevicecentral.com/article/that+crazy+gsm+buzz/199379_1.aspx [smartdevicecentral.com]

Originally CDMA might have been a bit better for sparse country networks, and GSM better suited for densely populated city networks, but with the new standards emerging around the "3G" timeframe, they both pretty much incorporated each other's technologies into the newer WCDMA standards.

Here's my dicey understanding of the GSM generations:
(See the bottom of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhanced_Data_Rates_for_GSM_Evolution [wikipedia.org] for the actual standards lumped under each G)

POTS (Plain old telephone service) : 64kbps line that carries uncompressed 8kHz 8-bit mono audio (that's why phone calls sound like crap when they're on TV / Radio talk shows). Also sort of explains why the fastest dialup modems were around 56k (after data protocol and error correction overhead).

1G AMPS: the old analog(ue) brick mobile phones the rock stars used in the 80s

GSM 2G voice: 8kHz 8-bit mono audio compressed using some codec that allows them to fit it in a ~7kbps - ~13kbps stream at roughly the same audio quality, except with compression artifacts. Different phones would support different codecs, but would fall back to some lowest common denominator. That's why some mobile calls sounded like crap while others sounded somewhat better. The data mode was called 3GPP (ha! 3G before the new meaning of 3G!) and could give you roughly the same data rates.

GSM 2.5G data: Then GPRS came along and gave you 56-114kbps, I think mostly by allowing you to use more timeslots if no one else was using them.

GSM 2.5G data the second: EDGE came along and gave you ~240kbps, mainly by squeezing more data bits into the carrier wave.

GSM 3G makes it more CDMA-like, where it can also use more of the frequency spectrum to pack bits. So now you can hog up to 1Mbps from the spectrum by using more timeslots and more of the available spectrum bandwidth.

GSM 4G: I'm not really sure where they're going with LTE Advanced, but more of the same, probably. Which means we'll probably have bunch more 3.5G brandings running around for a bit.

Re:What about GSM? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33319020)

>>>POTS (Plain old telephone service) : 64kbps line that carries uncompressed 8kHz 8-bit mono audio (that's why phone calls sound like crap when they're on TV / Radio talk shows). Also sort of explains why the fastest dialup modems were around 56k (after data protocol and error correction overhead).
>>>

POTS is actually only 7 bits, because the 8th bit is used for control signals. Hence 56k. Also the sample rate is 8000 times but the actual frequency width is only 4 kilohertz.

Re:What about GSM? (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 4 years ago | (#33319604)

Oh cool... I always thought there was a good reason for POTS to sound worse than 8-bit / 8kHzsamples from my old ISA Sound Blaster card.

I thought there might already be some 8b/10b encoding going on too like in ethernet that brought you down from 64kbps, but I guess not... maybe that's why the best you could practically expect from a 56kbps modem was 40+kbps with any error correction overhead.

I did enjoy learning about the Viterbi decoder and other forms of forward error correction used in wireless mobile networks. Seems like there are still plenty of other applications you could apply that kind of thing towards...

Negative Externality (2, Insightful)

Haffner (1349071) | about 4 years ago | (#33317494)

I think that the overuse of 3G (and subsequent use of 3G as an advertised speed) is a result of locked phones being tied to carriers. When Joe Average Consumer goes out to buy landline internet, there really isn't a whole lot to choose from that differentiates comcast, att, and whoever else. The main thing he decides on is speed; the hardware that comes with is usually irrelevant. What we have in the cell phone market is 3G being used as a sort of loose guarantee that internet will be somewhat fast. The whole using a protocol as a speed definition is stupid, but the reason Joe doesn't notice is that he is too busy choosing which phone to use, which determines the carrier. It seems all carriers have realized that it is significantly easier to advertise "3G enabled" and not put a speed on it, and let the phone pull in sales, rather than the network. If we lived in a world (or nearly any foreign country) where unlocked phones are the norm, you'd pick your phone, then comparison shop for either the fastest or cheapest (or balance of the 2) network.

tl;dr version: Overuse of 3G is caused by locked phones

Do we really need to point out that 3G (1, Insightful)

RapmasterT (787426) | about 4 years ago | (#33317626)

Do we really need to point out that 3G doesn't actually mean ANYTHING? Hell, I'm surprised we're not at 10G or higher now, nothing stops any carrier from one-upping the competition by simply saying "Sprint may have 4G, but we have 5G!!". that's what happens when you make up terms that don't mean anything.

Re:Do we really need to point out that 3G (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33317950)

Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades....

Re:Do we really need to point out that 3G (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 4 years ago | (#33318318)

No problem, I'll just crank it up to 11!!!

Have you Ever noticed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33317662)

"Have you ever noticed..." No, i haven't noticed that, nor do i care. What i do know is, is that the shit's still overpriced.

Opera mini (1)

heffrey (229704) | about 4 years ago | (#33317994)

The answer to slow cellular data rates is Opera mini. Browsing raw interweb on cellular is just horrid.

I have a 4g phone. (1)

Lvdata (1214190) | about 4 years ago | (#33318994)

I have the EVO 4g, and the 4g is somewhere between worthless, and a handicap. If I leave it on, it sucks down the battery VERY quickly, and turning it on and off gets old quick. I can do everything I need it for with 3g. I have not jail broken it as I don't need tethering. 3g EVDO works just fine. I do know about the 5gig cap on 3g, where as 4g does not have a cap. I got it for the 1ghz, Android, and 4.3 screen to replace my palm pre. The 4g-wimax chip also does the wifi, and has a max power usage of 350ma. Wimax on a phone just can not go through buildings well enough to be a turn it on and forget it without killing a battery. Now at home I have a larger more powerful Wimax modem for home use, and I have 5 hardware computers, along with 10 or so VM's all sharing a single 3Mpbs/1Mbps Wimax connection, and other then ping times in the 100-350ms range, it works just fine.
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