What are 4G Communication Systems?

Jerry Renshaw

Wireless communication technology has evolved from analog to digital to higher-bandwidth where faster digital fourth generation (4G) communication systems provide data transmission speeds as high as 100 megabits per second (Mbps). Faster data transmission speeds mean that 4G communication is available for a user on the move in a car, plane, or train. The advent of 4G enabled an entire new suite of services across the entire telecommunications industry, meaning a whole new level for users and a sizable investment for providers.

Some tablets use 4G mobile technology.
Some tablets use 4G mobile technology.

4G communication makes it possible for employees to participate in a video conference using a cell phone while in the field, or to tune in to high-quality streaming video via a mobile device. Networks are designed for 4G communication to work seamlessly with existing networks and allow global roaming. A stationary user can even see 1 gigabits per second (Gbps) download speeds with 4G.

Cell phone companies frequently update their towers to keep up with the latest technology.
Cell phone companies frequently update their towers to keep up with the latest technology.

Technologies that contribute to 4G include Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which is designed to carry more data by splitting radio signals that are broadcast over different frequencies and are immune to interference. Mobile Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) uses OFDMA and can support transmission speeds as high as 12 Mbps. Another variation on this smart-antenna technology is multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), which uses two or more radio signals on a single radio channel. As is typical with new telecommunication technologies, it took a great deal of sorting out to establish industry standards for the technology.

Videos may be streamed and downloaded quickly with a 4G connection.
Videos may be streamed and downloaded quickly with a 4G connection.

These advances rely on smart-antenna systems to be able to work. Refined over a period of years, this spatial multiplexing technology involves using multiple antennas at both the transmitter and the receiver. By doing so, data rates are increased, bandwidth is conserved, and battery power is maximized at the device. Sometimes called transmit/receive diversity, this type of smart-antenna system doesn't necessarily require channel knowledge at the transmitter because the receiver's antennas can sort out the signals.

All these technologies mean that communications can be prioritized and consumers can enjoy levels of service and speed that were previously reserved for business-class wireless telecommunication. For emergency first-responders, 4G communication can stream video back to headquarters while their phones give a fix on their Global Positioning System (GPS) location. Workers can take photos and send them directly to laser printers. Users can perform Internet functions and enter or upload data while still using the phone itself.

Cell phone providers typically mount both voice and data antennas on the same tower.
Cell phone providers typically mount both voice and data antennas on the same tower.

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Discussion Comments


@JoseJames is right when it comes to the analysis of the current mobile wireless market and new 4G communication systems. While Apple has an obvious lead on the competition, corporations like HTC and Google have teamed up and offered consumers a choice to the offerings that Apple makes with the iPhone handsets.

The Google operating system called Android has recently take a huge market share and is expected to soon grab the majority of the market from Apple Computer. Only time will tell what the stand off between these two corporations will result in but I hope that in the end the consumer is the final winner with having the best of both technologies available to them.


Whatever the system is that ends up ruling the 4G wireless technology market there is one thing for sure, it will have to rule the way that technology mobile systems are moving to.

In this highly competitive market it is all about competition and if you want to stay on top of the game not only do you need the best in technology but you need the best in mobile wireless marketing. A good example of this is the way that Apple deals with advertising. While they have incredible technology and have release one of the most sold smart phones available, there is still improvement that can be made and Apple does not have the war won.


While WiMAX may not be the best or only solution. 4G network technology will be the overcoming force in our new wireless mobile life. Even the ability to produce wireless speeds comparable to home broadband connections is amazing.

I always thought that low orbit satellite connections that Microsoft was working on years ago would be the eventual replacement of land lines but it is now obvious to me that we have a long way to go in mobile technology before a complete takeover occurs.

There is a non-stopping effort by the communications industry to continually produce the latest technology because if they lapse for even a moment then others will take them from behind. In a way this is good for the consumer but I have yet to see a decent 4G communication system of replacing all of the 3G system.


@thumbtack, while WiMAX from Sprint does sound promising as a 4G communication system I do think that it needs some stiff competition to enable a market that is striving for the best service. The problem when one communication dominates is that we as consumers loose the ability to choose what company we want to support and if there is something we don't like about the service then we are unable to move to a different but comparable service.

I would like to see what AT&T, Verizon and T-mobile have planned for their 4G services because right now the 3G+ services that they are rolling out just won't be capable of satisfying consumers needs for high speed internet whether from home or from a mobile location.


WiMAX is the most promising 4G communication in my opinion. This newly offered service from Sprint will be the fastest wireless broadband connection available on the market and has very promising prospect of replacing the use of home broadband connections.

What I am trying to say is that when we finally have decent and reliable wireless broadband connections, then and only then will we see a movement to abandon the constraints of wired internet service.

Just like the movement from home phone lines to mobile wireless options I think that the United States will see an exodus to wireless broadband connections once the conditions are right for the transition.

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