3G v 4G: Should You Upgrade?


You have a 3G mobile device, either cell phone or air card, and you’re inundated with ads and advice to upgrade to 4G for faster speeds than ever. Your plan is due for either renewal or expiration, but you don’t know exactly what 3G is, much less 4G, and whether the difference is worth it to you. Here are some questions typically asked and their answers about the 3G and 4G Speed Wars.
Q. What is 3G and 4G, and what’s the difference?
A. “3G” and “4G” has nothing to do with speed ratings. The G stands for “generation,” and the numeral designates what generation a device is. The generational “advancement” is usually noted when device technology changes to keep up with the sending or relay technology.
For example, your 3G smart phone is the 3rd generation your cell manufacturer produced. The speed at which that particular device may receive or send data may well be different than the speed at which other 3G devices send and receive. There is no industry standard for speed or when a “generation” evolves.
Q: If there are no standards, will upgrading from 3G to 4G matter?
A: Maybe, but maybe not. Your 3G device may serve well even with the flood of 4G devices available to you, whether in cell technology or satellite ISP options, simply because where you use your device the most isn’t a 4G-available area. If you upgrade to a 4G device when in you’re in a 3G area the most, and either your provider plans no area upgrade or you aren’t moving within the next few years, keeping 3G service is logical, and it often saves you money on the upgrade, a plan’s upgrade/renewal discount notwithstanding.
Q: Well, I live in a 4G area. Does that mean I should upgrade?
A: Again, not necessarily. You have to evaluate what you do with your device. If you’re looking at your smart phone, what do you do with it? Do you stream a lot, despite most providers’ limitation on bandwidth? Do you load a lot of new web pages? Do you send a lot of pictures or listen to a lot of music on your smart phone?
The 3G-4G speeds is data transmission speed. 4G is, indeed, faster than 3G, but if you don’t access the web a whole lot or don’t watch media files of any kind, your conversations and texting speed won’t make much of a difference.
Q: I upgraded my plan and my cell phone, because I live and work in a 4G area. Why don’t I notice much of a difference, if any?
A: A common complaint, that is. Just like WiFi use, it all depends on where exactly you are and how many others are accessing the 4G technology from your provider at any given time. If you are close to something that is interfering with your device, like high-voltage lines outside or leaning against or near a refrigerator or an operating microwave oven, move away from the interference source. Then,  if you experience this “unnoticeable difference,” odds are pretty fair that when you use your device, so is everyone else. There’s not a lot you can do about it but relocate either closer to a transmission tower or a new location altogether.
Q: I upgraded my Internet air card to a 4G device, because I live in a 4G area, but nothing’s changed. Why?
A: The above two possibilities may apply to your Internet service, so try those two resolutions. If neither one effects a noticeable speed difference, the cause is probably resting in your laptop or PC: The processor may not be able to handle the faster data transfer, and it can only keep up with the 3G-speed. The laptop’s processor and graphics card must be capable at processing—handling–the faster data receipt for a 4G upgrade to make a difference. Using a 4G air card in a 4G area will still give you the “same old, same old” if your laptop or PC is “YG,” ‘yesterday’s generation.
Before you shell out any money for a 4G upgrade, make sure that your activity warrants it and that your receiving device is capable of reflecting the higher maximum speed, whatever it may be for your provider.
The author of this post is Sara Woods @ Coupon Croc. Upgrade all of your media service packages and save when you use a Virgin Media discount code.