Today's cell phones are generally great at what they were originally intended to do -- make calls, send text messages, that sort of thing. But with an ever-growing amount of Internet-related activity taking place on modern mobile phones, the current networks can't keep up. They have a knack for becoming completely swamped whenever too many people try to update their Twitter account, download music, watch videos, check traffic reports or do whatever other online activities they're burning to do while away from their traditional computers.
Just as mainstream cell-users have started to get more comfortable with the term 3G, the third-generation technology that supports "smartphones," whispers of a mythical 4G on the horizon have already started to spread. In a basic sense, 4G (fourth-generation wireless communications) will involve settling mobile communications firmly and fully into the realm of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Although 4G technology will eventually be implemented in a variety of mobile gadgets, such as laptops and gaming devices, it will have the most noticeable impact in the case of mobile phones since they still deal with voice data differently.
In essence, cell phones will use the same basic VoIP system that computer softphone software programs and many long-distance carriers do now. They'll transfer all the information they have to send over a wireless Internet connection in a manner conforming to various Internet Protocols (IP). This will enable them to more completely maximize on packet switching, which is a great way to send information quickly -- and at a much lower cost -- from one destination to another.
When 4G networks become standard, users should notice a difference. 4G technology has some persuasive benefits, which are helping accelerate the industry's push in its direction. Peak times might still be a little pokey (by the standards of people spoiled by superfast Internet service), but overall, it should be a step up from the service most cell phone users are familiar with today.
If you're a little rusty on the ins and outs of cell phone technology and VoIP, you can brush up on the basics by checking out How Cell Phones Work and How VoIP Works. For more on the future that's fast approaching and the fiscal benefits it could herald for businesses, continue to the next page.