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Old 10-11-2011, 12:52 PM   #57
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Sorry folks the "I'll never have 4G" idea is just plain wrong. A few years ago, you might have found yourself saying the same thing about 3G. A couple years before that, about EDGE, and before that about GPRS.

Just about ALL of the new towers going up now support one of the forms of 4G. (4G is a marketing term, not an actual standard.) Over time, 4G service will be available in as many areas (or probably more) than where 3G is available today.

The reason you can't hardly find a device these days that doesn't support 4G, is that it wouldn't make sense to build one. Each time a new standard comes out, chipsets are designed that add the new standard to the existing ones. The "3G" modems already support a stack of different standards and choose the fastest available one wherever they are. Adding 4G to that stack makes the modems more capable, and doesn't cost any more to produce. In fact, given the economics of chip manufacturing, it's probably cheaper.

Verizon's LTE has just gone live in a big swath of the Pacific Northwest where we live. In a lot of the campgrounds around here where I used to have almost no service at all - I now have incredibly fast LTE service. They're bringing up new areas all the time. When they want to cover a new area, it is now cheaper for them to set up "4G" than 3G service - and their network gets more capacity, so they can sell more connections.

Interestingly - on our Sprint card (which supports Sprint/Clear WiMax-based "4G", any time you're on the 4G service your data is unlimited. You only have the 5 Gb/month limit on data delivered via 3G or slower services. As higher-bandwidth networks become more widely deployed, carriers will have a bigger pipe to sell, and I expect we'll see the return of unlimited (or practically unlimited) data plans. Right now, we all started streaming so much media (movies and music) to our smartphones and tablets, that we ran ahead of what the carriers' networks could handle. The carriers are scrambling to bring the needed bandwidth online. It's an enormously expensive and complicated process.

This is not a conspiracy or a ripoff. In my opinion - it is closer to a miracle. Driving down a freeway in rural Oregon and towing our Airstream - I can pull out my MacBook Air (OK my WIFE is actually driving), and use the wifi network that is active in the trailer - which gives me a boosted signal from the rooftop antenna using one of the data cards - and have full capability to manage our internet-based business - uploading and downloading files, emailing, chatting, even streaming some media. I'm an electronic engineer by training, I've been in the electronics industry for over 25 years, and I write electronic engineering technical articles for a living - and I can't even believe it works. Absolutely amazing.
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:36 PM   #58
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I have the Verizon Fivespot

http://www.verizonwireless.com:80/b2...edPhoneId=5535

It works excellent with my iPad 2 and also my Lenova laptop and HP desktop (located at home in a rural area). It makes a hotspot wherever you are. We travel extensively and are often in the middle of a farm field. This works great for us. We tried the AT&T product, since all of our phones and ipad are through them, but had little success. The Verizon phones don't have the same thing. A few thing about the Fivespot, you have to use the plug-in charger to charge--the USB doesn't charge. Also to turn on/off you I have to hold the button for up to 30 seconds or so.

I have no affiliation with any of these companies, it's just so hard to get technology straight and it took us a while to figure it out.
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Old 10-11-2011, 02:40 PM   #59
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Verizon data plans update. The unlimited data usage was discontinued in July for new users. Unless you are grandfathered in, 10 gb a month is $80 with a $10 charge for each additional gb overage. Business accounts may even get a better deal--it would be worth checking for power users.
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Old 10-11-2011, 02:44 PM   #60
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4G Reluctance

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Originally Posted by Phrunes View Post
I don't understand the 4G reluctance. Bottom line is that all 4G devices are backwards compatible on 3G, which by the way is a huge boondoggle unless you are in a major metro area.
Disclaimer: This post was sent to Airforums over the Verizon network using a Verizon USB720 modem, from an undisclosed location "out back of beyond", where Verizon's old-fashioned "3G" coverage ( EVDO Rev A) is fair-to-middlin' without even needing an outside antenna.

To understand "4G reluctance" you might start by going to the Verizon Wireless web site and viewing the user comments for all of their 4G USB modems. None of the 3 modems offered are rated over 2 stars out of 5 by users, and most of the users are not happy at all. Some quotes:

"Hate it, nothing works right, disconnects all the time."

"Works great. When it connects. Repeatedly and randomly disconnects for no apparent reason. I'm going to try and return mine."

Kinda makes you want to run right out and buy one, doesn't it?

In fairness to Verizon, (1) the 4G MiFi gets a lot better user ratings and (2) I give Verizon credit for a lot of guts for leaving these horrible user evaluations on their web site.

Oh, here's another anecdote from my own experience. A couple of months ago we were at a rally in a campground out in the boonies. I had a fair connection with my old USB 720 modem but friends' Verizon 4G iPhones were displaying "NO DATA COVERAGE". So apparently the 4G devices default back to 3G. . . some of the time.

My experience with Verizon's data service is that they will most likely get these bugs ironed out over time and I expect "4G" service to expand faster than most people expect. (EVDO Rev A spread like wildfire--I think it only required a software update at existing CDMA cell sites.)

But, like Jammer, I need my mobile internet connectivity, and I think I will stick with my crummy old "3G" modem a little longer and give others a chance to enjoy the debugging process.
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Old 10-11-2011, 05:32 PM   #61
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I understand the reluctance based on reviews - but I'm also usually a bit skeptical about negative reviews on complicated products. I interviewed someone from a major electronics chain one time who told me that 70% (!!!) of their wifi hubs were returned by customers as "defective" when nothing was wrong with them - people just didn't have the skills to set them up and get them working properly.

I also believe that most of the people that bother to go to a vendor's site and provide a review are the ones that are unhappy. When you buy a data card and it works - you just use it - you don't go write a big review on the vendors' site...

My wife and I live a little over half-time in our Airstream on the road. We run an internet-based business and need good-quality internet connections every single day - usually for many hours. We have 3 cards - a Pantech UML 290 "4G" (LTE) Verizon card (which uses the Qualcomm chipset), a slightly older Franklin Wireless U301 "4G (WiMax) Sprint card (which also uses a Qualcomm chipset), and an even older Sierra Wireless USBConnect Mercury "3G" (HSPA) AT&T card (which also uses a Qualcomm chipset). Notice anything here? Just about every vendor - independent of 2G, 3G, 4G, or G-whiz - uses the same Qualcomm chips in these modems. There are almost no differences except the plastic case.

All three cards cost about the same thing when we bought them - almost nothing with a 2 year data plan commitment. All three data plans cost about the same - $60 for 5GB on AT&T, $60 for 5GB (but unlimited 4G if you can find it), on Sprint, and $80 for 10GB on Verizon.

As I've said a couple of times - the Verizon card/service/plan wins hands down. We probably end up using it as our connection 80% of the time. However, there are times when only the AT&T card will work or (Veeeeeery rarely) when only the Sprint card will work. To date, we've probably had any of the cards in any "4G" mode... 3% of the time? Almost never.

There are also issues with all 3 cards dropping connections. I suspect that these glitches are from a variety of sources that don't have much to do with the card. Weather conditions, trees blowing past antennae line-of-sight, driver software on the computer or modem that's managing the connection, issues with whatever cell tower we happen to be using at the time, sunspots - there are a host of things that can go wrong.

If, like you, I already had a 3G modem that was working fine - and I didn't want to work a lot in an area that already has 4G service - I'd stay with what I've got. There would be no advantage to the upgrade.

If I was getting a new modem, however, I'd get the latest and greatest 4G one from whatever service provider I chose. I think it would be a mistake to go out of the way looking for an older 3G modem with the idea that it might work better or be cheaper. It won't. Based on my personal experience on the West Coast - I'd pick Verizon as the carrier as well - but there are a lot of factors in that decision.
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Old 10-11-2011, 08:54 PM   #62
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Ditto...my point on the 3G modem was this. If you go with a month to month, no contract plan you are likely going to have a 3G mifi option. So, if 96% of the time all you're gonna get on a contract 4G plan (pick a carrier) is 3G...why commit to the fools. I for one am tired of the marketing hype they are all spewing to justify a significant rate increase. To add fuel to my fire; my state of California charges sales tax on the suggested retail price of the device, not what you actually pay. Now, the smoke and mirrors they employ justifies it (even though you can buy the same unsubsidized phone on ebay for 1/2 of the msrp). But that doesn't stop the Golden State from padding the coffers with an illegal "use" tax, on top of the subsidized "plan" fees paid monthly (smells like triple taxation to me). And what if you cancel your plan within 30 days because the coverage they promised is non existant? Well...THIS great state will not refund the bloated tax you paid on a purchase you nevr made. That's why I went month to month...tired of the lies of the vendors and the greed of the state. Good luck with your purchase.
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Old 10-11-2011, 10:42 PM   #63
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IMO, 4 G will go down as a big marketing scam and possibly get sued by class action once customers complain in big numbers to their state attorney generals. Large amounts of data need really high frequency signals to work. That means you need towers every mile or so at a minimum and much closer in urban areas. No company is going to invest in that anywhere but high population areas. This is not going to work like 3G. Another technology needs to appear for non urban wireless internet that has decent bandwidth capabilities.
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:39 AM   #64
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Not trying to have an uncomfortable debate here, but there is a lot of misinformation there. "4G" is certainly not a scam. It's a complex, industry-wide technology upgrade that costs tens of billions of dollars and will take years to complete.

LTE is what we should really be discussing - as that's the "4G" plan for Verizon, AT&T, and even probably Sprint/Clear - as well as most other major carriers in the world.

LTE will ultimately be cheaper for the carriers to deploy than any current "3G" or earlier technology. It does not require "more towers". Probably Kosm1o is thinking about WiMax, which was not really intended as a 4G technology at all - but rather a range- and performance- extended version of the type of WiFi networks most of us use at home. WiMax (802.16) extends the wifi range from a couple hundred feet to as much as six miles. That's practical for deploying broadband in urban areas (like Clear does) but not for a full-blown mobile wireless standard.

Lots of information (too much, really) about LTE can be found on the wikipedia page:

3GPP Long Term Evolution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Note that there is a lot of info there on build-out of towers and infrastructure in various regions of the world.

Note that cell sizes can be as small as 1KM, and as large as 100KM (which is a huge range) certainly not "towers every mile or so"

Note that a wide range of frequency bands can be used - lower frequencies like 900MHz can be used in rural areas for long-range connections. High frequencies like 2.4 GHz can be used in urban areas to pack more concurrent users into a single tower. in terms of the large amounts of data these systems provide - all of these are "very high frequencies" - and they're the same as was required for earlier standards like 3G.

Putting 4G support into modems and building out the towers and infrastructure is a chicken-and-egg problem. There is no point spending years and billions to put up LTE towers if nobody's modem even supports it. It's relatively simple to build new modems that include LTE support (in addition to support for all the legacy 3G and below standards). Those modems don't really cost any more to build than the older ones. If they are build on a newer chipset - they may even be cheaper.

Once there are a lot of people with LTE-capable equipment, it makes sense to spend the huge bucks to populate the world with towers. However, that creates the uncomfortable situation we now have - people are starting to buy LTE modems and phones, but there aren't that many places they can get LTE service, so their modems don't do anything more than 3G most of the time. That does lead to confusion - particularly when companies market the benefits of LTE when they sell the modems - not later when the world is covered with towers. It would have been nicer to just quietly start putting LTE support into equipment, and make the big marketing splash when the build-out was finished. That just doesn't work in a competitive market, though. If your competitor announces LTE support and you don't - people buy their products instead of yours. There is no prize for taking the high road in high-tech marketing.

A good thing about LTE is - as its name implies, it was at least conceived to give us a standard that can evolve over time and continue to offer better performance, lower cost, and lower power consumption - without us having to throw everything away and deploy a new infrastructure every five years. It remains to be seen whether LTE can live up to that vision, or whether a total re-work will still be needed as new technologies come along.
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Old 10-12-2011, 02:14 PM   #65
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So Zenarmy, what will you do?
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Old 10-12-2011, 07:24 PM   #66
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Tfmkevin; excellent summary. The issue I have though is the concept that "the infrastructure buildout" will cost millions and it's a chicken and egg scenario. There used to be a concept in this country whereby companies innovate to remain competitive, and they make investments in R&D to propel that innovation into the marketplace that rewards them by buying their improved offering...not anymore! The investments are diverted to marketing to sell the masses on a "future state", the real problem is that they fail to mention the fine print which is; you will now pay for something you wont be getting, but with all the newfound profits you are driving our way; we will begin to build it. Imagine if Bell had tried that in the beginning?!!!!
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Old 10-12-2011, 08:44 PM   #67
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So Zenarmy, what will you do?
Zenarmy started this thread two years ago and has not been active on the forum for more than a year, so I doubt you will get an answer to your question. . .
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Old 10-12-2011, 08:50 PM   #68
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Well, unfortunately if that's the case it sounds like the cards have gone the same route as cell phones. I had this same hassle the last time I walked into a cell phone store and wanted to buy.......a cell phone.

They didn't have any cell phones. They had cell phones embedded in other devices, like cameras and game consoles. At least, that's what the sales guy wanted to sell me. Games. GPS. Cameras.

I was mistaken. I thought they might be able to sell me a cell phone. I just wanted a cellular phone to make and receive phone calls. I have a bunch of GPS and camera equipment I like just fine already. I don't play the games. Or want to walk around with my cell phone plugged into my head. Or listen to music from it. I figured they might have a simple cell phone. Apparently they didn't.
One company, Jitterbug, caters to the market for "just a cellular phone".

GreatCall - Official home of Jitterbug, easy-to-use cell phones, award-winning health and wellness apps, and affordable monthly plans

I got one for my mom (who is in her 90s) and she loves it.
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:12 AM   #69
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My comments are mostly aimed at Sprint's "4G" system which will never be anywhere but high populations areas for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Nonetheless as mentioned, LTE , if ever deployed in rural areas to the extent to be useful still needs significant infrastructure to support it. Will technology be obsolete before deployment? For sure the phones they are hawking will. In anycase these carriers continue to mislead the public into buying expensive phones with technology only useful in a few select areas. Here in Michigan only 1 city has Sprint 4G, Grand Rapids. If it isn't a marketing scam, then its a really big mis-step for a big company. And really, they should stop calling it 4G, as it no way meets international standard for that. Maybe 3.1G would be more like it .
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Old 10-14-2011, 02:55 PM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuvite-F

Zenarmy started this thread two years ago and has not been active on the forum for more than a year, so I doubt you will get an answer to your question. . .
.
Ahhh so I see. I'll bet two years ago it was quite difficult to get service on the road.
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