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The Breakdown: 3G, Super 3G and 4G. Take your pick.

Posted on 3/30/2010 by A.A.I

When it comes to 3G and 4G I could start out talking about latency and sever requests but I digress. If you're the average costumer you will more than likely find yourself confused when I say that T-mobiles new 3G network is twice as fast as Sprint's 4G network.

The interesting thing is; that while Verizon and AT&T are gearing up to release new 4G networks; meaning massive nationwide hardware upgrades. And Sprint is already moving with their 4G network and a new 4G capable handset.

T-mobile is simply upgrading their already in place 3G network to reach it's full potential. That means a faster network, sooner. T-mobile has opted for HSPA+ 21 which is named such for it's maximum speed of 21 mbps. This as with all wireless speeds is a theoretical or "best-case" maximum. The general rule is to consider half of whatever the top speed is the average speed you will experience which is still not too shabby at 10.5 mbps. Also this technology is backwards compatible. Users and technology already set to use T-mobile's 3G network will be able to utilize the HSPA+, no need for brand new devices specifically marked for the faster network. For example MyTouch users will see an increase in download speeds as well. Though t-mobile has plans for a HSPA+ device in the 2nd half of 2010.

This network speed is seemingly as good or better than Verizon has stated will be average for it's LTE (4G ) network: at 8-12mbs. Verizon plans to open 20-30 LTE markets in 2010 with full nationwide coverage shooting for 2015 completion. This network will also not be as open as AT&T and T-mobile's current network's. Devices that are LTE capable will be required to be registered for use on Verizon's network and have to pass a level of hardware certification. (simply need SIM card for AT&T and T-mobile's current networks.) AT&T is also building an LTE network. More on that - here. [via]

Sprint's WiMAX (4G) network average is reported to be around 3-6 mbps (I'm hearing 4.7). Theoretically you could hit up to 13mbps. Also some will be shocked to here that apparently Sprint's new Evo 4G device can't use voice and data simultaneously. The word from HTC -
"If you're using 4g for data, you can't use CDMA for voice. Currently the only way to do simultaneous voice and data would be through a third-party VOIP solution. However, this is not do to strict hardware limitations, so it's possible this could change with future updates."
More on that - here. [via]

For the moment Sprint and T-mobile are seemingly your best bet for faster mobile connections. With AT&T and Verizon's 4G networks set to hit markets in the future (likely a few years) One down side that you may see is a data cap for T-mobile's HSPA+. 3G networks are already pretty clogged as it is. And a easy way to deter people from tethering or as using them as their home wireless connection is to set a data cap. Only time will tell. On the flip side T-mobile stands to be in a great position to offer a relatively cheap and fast wireless connection. Long before some of their competitors are up and running. Also t-mobile has said it does plan to make the jump to 4G in the future.

All in all it comes down to coverage, plan cost and compatible devices. All of these need to be considered if you're ready to make the jump to a different carrier to get your hands on a faster network. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the latest from AndroidAppInspection.

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