What is 4G you may ask. If you have never really taken the time to consider what it is aside from the way you connect to the internet through your mobile devices, you are not alone.
Quite literally, 4G means ‘fourth generation’ and refers to being the fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology, following 3G of the early 2000s.
Introduced just under 10 years ago, 4G was really quite a massive step in the tech world in terms of what users were able to do compared to 3G connections.
4G was designed to support higher volume of data traffic and higher number of concurrent users while offering significantly faster speeds, even during peak times.
The introduction of 4G mobile internet presented seemingly endless possibilities for what we could do with our smartphones.
You likely recall the switch from 3G to 4G because it meant that most of us were now carrying little computers in our pockets.
With 4G came the ability to do so much more than quick internet searches, basic social media access, and streaming low-quality videos.
Although 5G is currently the newest mobile communication technology, 4G is still the prevalent cellular standard nowadays and has a long way to go before being phased out.
Without further ado, let’s answer some important and popular questions that many people have about 4G mobile technology.
Table of Contents
- What Speed is 4G? Is It Enough for Streaming and Gaming?
- Streaming Video Content: Is 4G fast enough for Netflix?
- Is 4G fast enough for online gaming?
- What uses more battery, WiFi or 4G?
- Does 4G Interfere With Wi-Fi?
- Why Is My 4G Connection Faster Than Wi-Fi?
- If 4G Faster Than Fiber Optic Broadband Connections?
- Final Thoughts
What Speed is 4G? Is It Enough for Streaming and Gaming?
The theoretical speed of 4G can reach 150Mbps (depending on the 4G standard and version) but in real-world the average speed of 4G is around 14-15 Mbps (download speed), but this varies depending on environment conditions, signal strength etc.
There is an average upload speed of about 8-10 Mbps, which is a major improvement on the upload speeds of 3G, which were in the ballpark of about 0.5 Mbps.
Streaming Video Content: Is 4G fast enough for Netflix?
In order to stream Netflix content without seeing that dreaded buffering percentage spinning round and round, you need a minimum download speed of 1.5 Mbps. With speeds well above this threshold, 4G mobile data offers enough speed to stream HD content on your phone or mobile device at about 5 Mbps.
If you aren’t too picky about the quality of the content you stream, you can access SD videos for closer to 3 Mbps. This would further reduce instances of buffering while allowing you to enjoy consistent quality.
Of course, this applies to any video streaming service you are using on your mobile device.
The ability to watch high-definition programming with 4G on our phones is really pretty revolutionary when you consider the mobile data that was available in the early 2000s.
Is 4G fast enough for online gaming?
One of the improvements many users were excited about when 4G was introduced was the lower delay imposed on packets (latency) inside the network.
This was important to the mobile gaming community because this meant they were able to interact with the game servers in a fraction of the time 3G had allowed for (between 20% and 50% faster actually).
Combine the ping rate (delay) with the much-improved mobile data speed and these factors contribute to an overall enhanced experience for anyone playing online mobile games, whether they are MMORPG or first-person shooters.
Another noteworthy change is the ability to share your 4G internet connection with other people in the house. Using a MiFi device, you can connect to your 4G cellular network for Internet access and then share this connection in your home network using WiFi.
Thanks to the upload speed of 4G, it is now easier than ever to share content from your mobile game of choice to other hosting sites or friends and other players.
The selection of games accessible on phones and mobile devices is much better now as well.
You can now stream games from a PC directly to your phone and save yourself the hassle of downloading games to your phone, which take up precious space in our handheld computers.
What uses more battery, WiFi or 4G?
One thing to keep in mind in this article is that Wi-Fi is definitely easier on your device’s battery than 4G.
It is just a fact that 4G requires more power than Wi-Fi, therefore 4G uses more battery compared to WiFi.
This is because our phones are continuously scanning to find a 4G connection to ensure our device gets the best signal possible.
We have become accustomed in recent years to the increased speed of 4G conveniently available to us (most of the time); however, it is of little use to have a strong data connection if your phone is dead.
In situations when you aren’t actively using your mobile data, you may want to disable 4G temporarily to save some battery power.
Alternatively, you can also place your phone in ‘airplane mode,’ which will also disable 4G connectivity for the time being.
Does 4G Interfere With Wi-Fi?
While this is a perfectly reasonable question, the answer is no. There should be no interference between your 4G connection and wireless internet networks.
When looking at the electromagnetic spectrum on which these two internet transmissions are running, mobile data runs on 700, 850, 1700, 1900, or 2100 Mhz, whereas Wi-Fi runs on 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz. Since the two are not sharing any radio transmission lanes, they don’t interfere between each other.
Why Is My 4G Connection Faster Than Wi-Fi?
Theoretically, a Wi-Fi connection is faster than 4G internet speeds. That does not mean there are no situations when your mobile data will, in fact, be quicker than your wireless connection.
There are a number of variables that can impact your wifi wireless speeds, rendering them slower than 4G.
For starters, when you connect to 4G on your mobile device, there is typically only one device connected to that mobile data network. Since there are no other connections drawing on your 4G, the speed is more consistent and, as a result, often faster as well.
When you consider your wireless setup at home, for example, there are many times multiple devices are connected to that one network.
If there are multiple members of the home using that same Wi-Fi connection, then there are also X number of people pulling a little bit of its speed away.
Another thing that may be affecting your wireless speed is whether or not there are any devices (like a PC) connected by hardwired connection to the modem or router (through an ethernet cable, for example).
Since we do live in a very technologically focused society, many people also have smart TVs, Google Home, Amazon Echo, and various other smart-home devices all drawing on the existing Wi-Fi connection to provide you with information and entertainment.
Finally, there are factors such as infrastructure and the number of users using wireless internet connections on the same bandwidth as you, and that can slow things down considerably as well.
If 4G Faster Than Fiber Optic Broadband Connections?
Fiber optic broadband internet is what most people are using now for their wired internet connections at home, work, and school. Like the name entails, it uses fiber optic wires instead of the traditional copper wire to transmit internet connections.
In some rare cases, 4G is equally fast to fiber optic broadband Internet connections but most of the times a fiber optic plan is much faster. Usually, fiber internet plans for homes can reach 500Mbps or 1Gbps speeds which are out of reach on a 4G connection.
Another reason 4G is not necessarily a viable replacement for a wired-in internet system is due to current limits on mobile data use through many providers.
Even with extra equipment to provide 4G connections outside of a mobile hotspot, it is just not quite as consistently powerful as most fiber optic broadband.
Overall, 4G has really changed the way we use mobile devices. It has delivered speeds most people didn’t think they needed for their mobile phones, tablets, etc.
With the amount of tech that people have nowadays, it’s not surprising that we are entering into a new stage of even faster mobile internet networks.
5G is on the horizon and is poised to take over the mobile data market just as 4G did with its predecessor, 3G.
Considering the awesome benefits and doors that were opened by 4G back in 2012, it is safe to assume that there will be some even more impressive new mobile innovations in the near future!
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