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Making sense of 4G live chat with CNET writer, Maggie Reardon

by CNET Event admin / April 18, 2011 9:25 AM PDT
***This event has ended ***

See below for transcript of this event.


Smartphones are booming, but finding the right operating system may be your biggest challenge. iOS and Android have emerged as the two biggest players, but WebOS?, Windows Phone 7, and RIM continue to put up a fight. What are the best attributes of each and which is the best for you?
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Getting started
by maggiereardon CNET staff / June 14, 2011 2:26 AM PDT

Thanks for joining us today for Ask the Editors. Please send in your questions about 4G wireless. I'm here to answer them. I may not get to every question, but I will do my best to answer as many as I can over the next hour.

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by the_ehrl / June 14, 2011 2:26 AM PDT

What is the difference between "4G" and 4G LTE"?

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4G vs. 4G LTE
by maggiereardon CNET staff / June 14, 2011 2:29 AM PDT
In reply to: 4G LTE

4G refers to a general category of next generation wireless. People often use this term to refer to WiMax and LTE, which are specific types of technologies used to deliver the service. So LTE is a flavor of 4G.

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by billfan / June 14, 2011 2:27 AM PDT

I'm on Sprint and love their service and phones, but am concerned about the future of WiMax...will Sprint possibly switch to LTE, and if so, how would that affect their phone lineup?

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Sprint and LTE?
by maggiereardon CNET staff / June 14, 2011 2:32 AM PDT
In reply to: WiMax

Sprint hasn't announced what it plans to do with regard to LTE. But it has hinted that it plans to deploy LTE at some point. And the reason why is that all the major carriers around the world will be using LTE and so the cost in the future of operating an LTE network will be less and devices will also be cheaper. That said, Sprint has made a big investment in WiMax and it won't go away overnight. If and when Sprint rolls out LTE, it will be a long process and you'll likely be ready for new devices anyway when the network is finally available.

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Fastest 4G

Which carrier really has the fastest 4G service?

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Fastest 4G
by maggiereardon CNET staff / June 14, 2011 2:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Fastest 4G

Right now Verizon seems to have the fastest 4G. Some people have reported getting as high as 20Mbps downloads using its 4G LTE service. But these speeds may not be sustainable. As the network fills up with users it will likely get slower.

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by Msrockcl / June 14, 2011 2:30 AM PDT

Need a new phone. Currently Verizon is our provider. What is the best phone to buy. We need to access the Internet throughout the day

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Samsung Galaxy SII
by soapytoo / June 14, 2011 2:30 AM PDT

Hi there:

I want the Galaxy SII cellphone.

Do you know WHEN it will arrive in the U.S.? I know that it is available in Europe, but that does not help me in Texas.


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Pseudo 4G?
by aburkman / June 14, 2011 2:31 AM PDT

Which vendors are stretching the definition of 4G too far?

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Stretching the meaning
by maggiereardon CNET staff / June 14, 2011 2:38 AM PDT
In reply to: Pseudo 4G?

4G is a bit overused. None of the services that are offered today are truly 4G. They don't meet the true definition but LTE and Wimax are truly next gen technologies. So I would say that T-Mobile and AT&T with their HSPA+ networks are pushing the envelope on 4G. HSPA+ is really an extension of 3G technology.

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What is 4G

What is 4G and is it a standard? How much better is it than 3G?

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4G speed

What's the difference between 3G and 4G speed?

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4G vs. 3G
by thekman58 / June 14, 2011 2:32 AM PDT

In terms of speed how does 4G compare to 3G? Is it twice as fast, etc...

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4G vs. 3G
by maggiereardon CNET staff / June 14, 2011 2:41 AM PDT
In reply to: 4G vs. 3G

4G networks vary in speed, but Verizon says on average customers get about 12Mbps downloads. On regular 3G the average speeds are about 700Kbps to 800Kbps. So 4G is potentially much much faster. 4G itself is not a standard, but there are technologies: LTE and WiMax which are being standardized. And the ITU has tried to offer guidelines for which technologies can be considered 4G.

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Best Verizon 4G Phone

So, in your opinion, which is the best Verizon 4G phone out there today?

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Verizon's Commitment to 4G
by dlogan / June 14, 2011 2:33 AM PDT

Can you speak to Verizon's specific commitment to 4G? I live in the mid-Atlantic area and would like to know how soon 4G capability will be readily available through most of their network.

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4G and Verizon
by maggiereardon CNET staff / June 14, 2011 2:45 AM PDT

Verizon says that they will be rolling out their 4G network the same way they did their 3G wireless network. And they expect to cover the same footprint as the 3G network within in a couple of years. So if you get good 3G coverage today, I would guess that in the next year or so you will likely be getting access to 4G service.

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Is HSPA+ really 4G?

AT&T the and T-Mobile are advertising HSPA+ as "4G". What's the difference between their 3G networks and HSPA+?

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by maggiereardon CNET staff / June 14, 2011 2:47 AM PDT
In reply to: Is HSPA+ really 4G?

HSPA+ is a faster version of the 3G technology that AT&T and T-Mobile already offer. So the main difference is that it offers faster speeds to consumers. LTE and WiMax also offer faster speeds. So in that sense consumers may not recognize the difference. Both services should be better for consumers. But on the backend, LTE and WiMax are more efficient, so it's important for carriers to switch to it eventually so that they can get more out of their networks.

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fake 4G?

What is this that I hear that AT&T will be marketing their 3.5G as 4G?

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Motorola 4G

When will Motorola/Verizon launch the Motorola Bionic?

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4G v 3G - signal strength (bldgs)

What is the advantage, if any, of 4G v 3G in urban settings?

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Dollars for service

Do you know is the various carriers will charge more for the 4G service eventually?

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Pay more for 4G?
by maggiereardon CNET staff / June 14, 2011 2:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Dollars for service

Some carriers are already charging a premium for the 4G service. For example, Sprint charges more for it's service. But the carrier says it does this because the phone is so much better than other phones and they anticipate that customers using a 4G service will use the data service more. But in reality, the carriers actually can offer more services at a lower cost using the new LTE and WiMax infrastructure. So in theory they should not be charging more.

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Verizon Best Phone and Tablet
by NANNIX / June 14, 2011 2:36 AM PDT

What is the best phone on Verizon? What is the best tablet? Will they have a 4G tablet?

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4G battery life

My assistant manager got the Thunderbolt and is constantly complaining about the battery life (literally, runs the stock battery down after 3/4 of a day idling).

Is this an issue with the current generation of 4G phones?

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Battery life and 4G
by maggiereardon CNET staff / June 14, 2011 2:51 AM PDT
In reply to: 4G battery life

I would say yes, this can be an issue with early generation 4G devices. You have to remember that all of these phones have several radios in them. And sometimes in the early designs of these devices they don't always manage those radios in the most efficient manner. People who had the early HTC Evo also complained of the same issue. but later generation devices are getting better.

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4G tablets
by billfan / June 14, 2011 2:36 AM PDT

I refuse to buy a tablet if there's a contract attached. Do you forsee a future where more 4G tablets will be available, and with a month-to-month contract? I dont understand why month to month is available with the iPad and not other devices. I know many people that wont buy a 3G/4G tablet because of the contract. I feel like Carriers are too greedy for their own good and are missing out on my business!

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by maggiereardon CNET staff / June 14, 2011 2:53 AM PDT
In reply to: 4G tablets

Yes, I do think that carriers are moving to a no-contract policy with tablets. We've already seen this with the iPad and it's been working well. So I would expect to see more of this in the future.

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