At the International CES in Las Vegas a couple of carriers announced the launch of their 4G networks that users will be gliding onto this year. With the rollout of the faster, next-generation wireless networks users will be experiencing faster and steadier connections than those of the current 3G networks. It is expected that these networks will produce throughput that is ten times faster than that of the 3G networks.
Although the new-generation networks are only expected to cover the majority of the United States by the end of 2012, a large number of users will now begin experiencing the effects of the 4G network which will ensure no more waiting times for web pages to open on computers or smartphones or play high quality videos smoothly.
Network carriers will now also want to get as many users as possible on their new networks and will surely try to attract new clients with unbelievable applications that will fully utilize the speeds of their 4G networks. Well, a number of carriers have already started demonstrating new apps for use on the new networks.
Although these apps are nothing new, they are normal apps that we would use in all households on a daily basis. The apps focus on three categories in particular: HD Video Streaming, Videoconferencing and Online Gaming.
High Definition Video Streaming
Although watching a video on a smartphone with a 3G service is fast, this experience may also be coupled with pixilation, strange movements and sometimes screen freezes. Users may also notice that many videos do not display real high-definition quality on the device. The main reason for this is the fact that 3G services cannot establish a large enough pipe to the end device to deliver a high number of video data packets fast enough. Another problem is the high latency time, which could be around 150 milliseconds.
With the new 4G networks latency times will be much less. It is expected to be as little as 40 milliseconds. This near-instantaneous send and receive between connection and the end device, combined with much higher raw data speeds, could create video images that looks close to real high definition on the smartphone.
At the CES we found that the majority of all new smartphones announced, which have been developed specifically for the 4G networks, are equipped with front-facing cameras for videoconferencing purposes. Many of these devices have even moved from 1-megapixel to 2-megapixel cameras.
Videoconferencing is quite different from high definition streaming. Just like HD streaming, videoconferencing requires a certain amount of download speed, which is estimated at around 1MB per second. This will enable the receiver to view real-time movements on the other side of the device. The real problem, however, is upload speed.
Videoconferencing also requires low latency. This service often involve very little time between one person talking and another responding. When latency occurs, users are often talking over each other.
Servers today are configured to provide more download speed than upload speed, which often lead to bottlenecking in substandard videoconferencing sessions. Current 3G networks with its high latency rates often cause problematic videoconferencing.
4G networks are expected to reduce latency by about two-thirds. Although videoconferencing may still not be perfect, it will be much more effective than with today’s technology.
The launch of the 4G networks have created a new possibility for gamers – to play high definition games with friends and family over mobile devices. This technology will likely see the first generation of real-time mobile games that operate on cellular networks.
The fact that 4G networks can deliver more data packets, upstream and downstream, at a more predictable rate and less latency, a new class of games will likely be born in the near future. These networks will be able to accommodate synchronous gaming, where players make quick moves in reaction to the moves of other players.
As example, a shooter game will work perfectly over the new networks.