Is 4G a gimmick? Is it everywhere?

patent10021

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Apr 23, 2004
2,952
414
So I have an iPhone on SoftBank Japan. It is/was 3G. That means a 3G carrier signal no? If SoftBank isn't a 4G network then having a 4G phone wouldn't matter right? How do I know if SoftBank is 4G capable without actually going into the store and asking them?

I thought I was reading somewhere that carriers are advertising 4G when they're not 4G. What does this comment mean?

Thanks
 

Buckeyestar

macrumors 6502a
Sep 17, 2011
804
39
No carrier has real 4G. AT&T and T-Mobile bill their HSPA+ as 4G, while everyone acknowledges LTE as 4G. But neither are. The actual standard would only apply to LTE Advanced, which is not offered by carriers yet.
 

r.j.s

Moderator emeritus
Mar 7, 2007
15,026
35
Texas
You could look at Softbank's website to see if they offer 4G, but it wouldn't matter yet - to you - as you do need a 4G capable phone to use it.

Real 4G is not a gimmick - it is fast, but carriers here in the U.S. have advertised networks that aren't quite up to the 4G spec as "4G." Eventually, the standards organization caved and redefined 4G to include these lower standards.

And, no, it is not everywhere.
 

Jb07

macrumors 6502
Oct 31, 2011
433
1
Dallas
No carrier has real 4G. AT&T and T-Mobile bill their HSPA+ as 4G, while everyone acknowledges LTE as 4G. But neither are. The actual standard would only apply to LTE Advanced, which is not offered by carriers yet.
Both Verizon and AT&T have LTE 4G.
 

Interstella5555

macrumors 603
Jun 30, 2008
5,219
4
So I have an iPhone on SoftBank Japan. It is/was 3G. That means a 3G carrier signal no? If SoftBank isn't a 4G network then having a 4G phone wouldn't matter right? How do I know if SoftBank is 4G capable without actually going into the store and asking them?

I thought I was reading somewhere that carriers are advertising 4G when they're not 4G. What does this comment mean?

Thanks
Yes and no. It's a gimmick in the same way that 3D is a gimmick these days; no one really has a standard for it (see: Difference between Toy Story 3/Avatar and Alice in wonderland), but everyone can claim they have it, no matter how poor the implementation is. 2 or 3 years down the line we may have a standard for what actually constitutes it, but now everyone will just say they have it since it's the new thing.
 

JUMPINTHEGUN

macrumors newbie
Jan 2, 2008
19
0
I just noticed this as well... we just got 3G in my area for AT&T (yes, a rural area) and I bought a 4S a few months ago... I noticed today that the band on the phone changed from 3G to 4G... I didn't think that the 4S was even "4G" capable... even thought Apple/At&T touted that their 3G was faster than most others 4G - true or not, I don't know... It did just update to 5.1 last night, so maybe that's it; a change in the display based on data speed?
 

Zwhaler

macrumors demi-god
Jun 10, 2006
6,735
984
Both Verizon and AT&T have LTE 4G.
I think that technicalities aside, the speeds offered by the current "4G" LTE are fast enough to make customers feel as though it is the next step up from 3G, whereas HSPA+ really just isn't.
 

ixodes

macrumors 601
Jan 11, 2012
4,430
2
Pacific Coast, USA
The best answer is to do your own research instead of asking individuals in an Apple forum. There's too much guessing & assuming amongst individuals, it's a waste of your time.
 

rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
3,493
3,431
PHX, AZ.
I just noticed this as well... we just got 3G in my area for AT&T (yes, a rural area) and I bought a 4S a few months ago... I noticed today that the band on the phone changed from 3G to 4G... I didn't think that the 4S was even "4G" capable... even thought Apple/At&T touted that their 3G was faster than most others 4G - true or not, I don't know... It did just update to 5.1 last night, so maybe that's it; a change in the display based on data speed?
It simply means the tower you are connected to supports HSPA+ (4G).
AT&T has been including HSPA+ radios on all their 3G towers even if the backhaul has not been upgraded yet.
One less thing they have to come back and do later.

At the end of the day, that's all the symbol means. Signal type, not actual speed.
 

lordofthereef

macrumors G5
Nov 29, 2011
12,886
3,415
Boston, MA
Yes, but the original 4G standard did not include that version of LTE.
It's time we quit quibbling over the standard and start going with network definition and user understanding. I think it's clear that the OP is asking either about HSPA+ or LTE. Does it matter that neither of those are "true 4G standard"? I think not.
 

Dmunjal

macrumors 65832
Jun 20, 2010
1,504
1,218
Who cares what it's called, it's fast! It's available everywhere I need to go (most major metropolitan areas in the US) from both Verizon and AT&T. Once you use it, you'll never go back to 3G. It is as fast as WiFi with the same low ping rates. In fact, it is probably faster than any public WiFi hotspot. I find that only my home and office offer faster speeds than than LTE. Even Starbucks is slower.
 

Stealthipad

macrumors 68040
Apr 30, 2010
3,223
7
I just noticed this as well... we just got 3G in my area for AT&T (yes, a rural area) and I bought a 4S a few months ago... I noticed today that the band on the phone changed from 3G to 4G... I didn't think that the 4S was even "4G" capable... even thought Apple/At&T touted that their 3G was faster than most others 4G - true or not, I don't know... It did just update to 5.1 last night, so maybe that's it; a change in the display based on data speed?
Did you update to 5.1? If so that is what changed your AT&T phone to show 4G.

This is all an advertising thing so AT&T can compete with Verizon.
 

r.j.s

Moderator emeritus
Mar 7, 2007
15,026
35
Texas
It's time we quit quibbling over the standard and start going with network definition and user understanding. I think it's clear that the OP is asking either about HSPA+ or LTE. Does it matter that neither of those are "true 4G standard"? I think not.
I'm not quibbling, merely answering the OP's question:

I thought I was reading somewhere that carriers are advertising 4G when they're not 4G. What does this comment mean?
And, you're right, it doesn't matter, as we won't see the "original intent" 4G for a few years. Hell, I don't get those speeds at home on cable.
 

Thedeathbear

macrumors 6502a
Apr 18, 2010
604
2
It's time we quit quibbling over the standard and start going with network definition and user understanding. I think it's clear that the OP is asking either about HSPA+ or LTE. Does it matter that neither of those are "true 4G standard"? I think not.
The telecom companies payed to change the standard of what 4G is. LTE is 4G.
 

takeshi74

macrumors 601
Feb 9, 2011
4,972
68
How do I know if SoftBank is 4G capable without actually going into the store and asking them?
Google. Here's a hit that came up right away for me:
http://www.theverge.com/2012/2/20/2812955/softbank-launch-4g-network-japan-axgp
SoftBank, Japan's third-largest carrier and primary provider of the iPhone, is to flip the public switch on its 4G network this Friday after testing since November.
SoftBank's network doesn't run on LTE per se, but a new system called AXGP (Advanced eXtended Global Platform) that has its roots in Willcom's PHS network, and is cross-compatible with the TD-LTE system that's rolling out across China (and the US, thanks to Clearwire).
 

lordofthereef

macrumors G5
Nov 29, 2011
12,886
3,415
Boston, MA
I'm not quibbling, merely answering the OP's question:
Not you, just everyone in general. This is the number one thing I here people say in response to questions about 4G; that we don't actually have "true 4G" to begin with. This has become a point of semantics and I was merely pointing out that I don't find it helpful. The general public thinks 4G is what the teclos say it is. For all intents and purposes, we may as well accept that.

----------

The telecom companies payed to change the standard of what 4G is. LTE is 4G.
I don't know that they paid for the change, but it's clear that the change was influenced by how they started defining it. In any case, I don't see much of a point in dwelling in the past. It is what it is today. Maybe it will be different tomorrow too. Who knows? At the end of the day, I think 4G, to the average consumer, means nothing more than "significantly faster than 3G", and it is that.
 

Spectrum Abuser

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2011
1,377
31
No carrier has real 4G. AT&T and T-Mobile bill their HSPA+ as 4G, while everyone acknowledges LTE as 4G. But neither are. The actual standard would only apply to LTE Advanced, which is not offered by carriers yet.
The standard has changed. HSPA+ is now considered to be 4G. Although I would rather say HSPA+ is just a faster protocol of 3G considering HSPA is considered 3G after all. Long term evolution on the other hand, advanced or not, is indeed '4G'.
 

cynics

macrumors G4
Jan 8, 2012
11,369
1,734
I couldn't imagine actually needing more then LTE for some to class it in with HSPA+. Technically LTE might not be 4G but it's a damn sight better.

It's typically 2x as fast as good residential broadband. Unless you just have garbage broadband who is sitting around saying "40 - 70 mb down?!? Pssshhhh this is 3.99G".

I think this is why no one has really complained about the terminology of 4G when used with LTE. There was mild upgrades between 2G, 3G etc etc then a huge leap so no one was looking up the definitions and IUT standards etc etc. Now AT&T took one of there mild upgrades and compared it to something that's much better.
 

patent10021

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Apr 23, 2004
2,952
414
たけしさん、こんにちは。リンクを* *えて* *きどうもありがとうございます。サイトを* ** *にします。
SoftBank's network doesn't run on LTE per se, but a new system called AXGP (Advanced eXtended Global Platform) that has its roots in Willcom's PHS network, and is cross-compatible with the TD-LTE system that's rolling out across China (and the US, thanks to Clearwire).

The service will only be available in major cities at launch, reverting to 3G elsewhere, but the carrier is aiming for 99 percent coverage by the end of this year. The new entry means that 4G in Japan is now even more fractured and nebulous a concept than in North America, with AXGP competing against already-common 42Mbps HSPA+ networks, WiMAX services from KDDI, and Xi, the LTE service from NTT Docomo.
Why are there so many forms of this technology? Why the heck is all this stuff so fragmented? It7S like the Android of carriers.

All great posts. Thanks guys.
 
Last edited:

RotaryP7

macrumors 6502a
Aug 31, 2011
689
11
Miami, FL
It's actually 3.5G but then again, why would anyone call it that? It's closer to 4G so I guess it's called 4G. :rolleyes:

Fun fact, T-Mobile's HSPA+ averages faster speeds than Verizon's 4G LTE. Google that if you want.