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The value of 4G

Created by isomeri on Nov. 10, 2012, 6:27 p.m.
  • I'm going to be buying my first smartphone within a fortnight, which will usher in an era of mobile internet for me. Currently I'm looking at changing my current phone contract to something a little more "modern", and I'm pondering a 4G contract. The 4G/LTE contract I'm currently looking at would only be 7 euros, or roughly a third more expensive than the slower 3G option. Both with unlimited data.

    The thing is, I'm not sure why anyone would need a connection in excess of 21 Mbit/s on their phone. Personally I don't currently use a lot of streaming services like Spotify, and am not sure if there's a lot of value in getting a 4G connection. Then again, it's not that more expensive.

    I would like to hear from people who have upgraded their contracts to 4G. How big does the difference feel? Is there a huge hit on battery-life? How about changing up from HSPA+ to LTE?

    Thanks in advance for your responses.

  • Going to change my contract tomorrow, so I would really appreciate some responses regarding this.

  • Here in 'Merica when you get an LTE phone you automatically get an LTE data plan. On AT&T prices for the 3G data plans and LTE ones are the same. Since you said the price difference there is minimal there's no reason to not get access to LTE.

  • 4G is pointless to me right now. I am getting between 500 - 700kb/s often on my HSPA+ connection, I will see no gain in going to 4G for general web browsing and app usage, I can stream HD YouTube and music just fine.

    Though I guess it depends on your provider, since I know for a fact I never got speeds anywhere near this when I was on O2. I'm truly shocked that I am getting ~7MB connection speeds on HSPA+!

    I've gotten around 790kb/s max, of course higher is always better but the fact is just browsing the web does not require a fast connection, you can do that comfortably on a paltry 2MB line. I was stuck on a 1MB line for a week last month and it was pretty decent.

    http://i.imgur.com/qd5se.png

  • @Sooty: You realize 700kb/s is not even close to 7MB, right?

  • @Fish_Face_McGee said:

    @Sooty: You realize 700kb/s is not even close to 7MB, right?

    Yes it is. I didn't say 7mb/s. I was saying 700kb/s is close to the speeds a 7MB connection would get, which it is. My old 20MB line used to top out at around 2200kb/s. I know a 7MB connection doesn't equate to exactly 700kb/s, it's probably closer to the speeds a good 6MB line would pull. (whether it's closer to a 6-9MB line doesn't really matter, it's still close)

  • Can we use proper notation? Big B is bytes. Little b is bits. Connection speeds are denoted in bits (or multiples thereof). A 7 Mbps connection will pull down 875 kBps max, so if he's getting 700 kBps, then he's getting good speeds. If that's 700 kbps, then it's a 10th of the theoretical speed.

    At any rate, if you get a good HSPA+ connection, then LTE is probably not strictly necessary. Here in the US, however, there's no incentive NOT to get LTE if you're on AT&T or Verizon. (There's some incentive to switch to another, cheaper carrier, but that's often at the cost of coverage, which is important to a lot of people.) In the specific case of Verizon, their 3G speeds are horribly slow (I believe 2 Mbps is the theoretical maximum, and I usually saw half that with a good connection), so LTE is the difference between watching a webpage load and having it there as soon as it's clicked.


  • I ended up opting for a cheap LTE contract. The Lumia 920 I'm getting has tethering and Gary's stories of his LTE hotspot made me want to share my internet to those in need like fish and bread. I'll report back with what sort of speeds I'm getting next week when I finally get the damn phone.