Sorting Through the Wide World of 4G Wireless Internet Connections

Wireless internet connections come in many shapes and forms, as more internet providers look to keep up with the changing landscape of laptops, tablets and mobile devices.  As handhelds continue to evolve into more and more technologically sophisticated apparatuses, growing in terms of capability with each passing generation, the internet networks on which they operate will continue to develop at a similar pace.

Whether at home, spending the day around the city or on campus, wireless internet networks are practically a dime a dozen, as individuals from all walks of life have likely accessed the internet wirelessly in some capacity.  While affording more mobility than traditional hardwire connections, standard home wireless internet connections have long been plagued by limited signal strength.  On average, wireless routers average 120 ft. signal range, with a maximum of 300 ft. for outdoor coverage.  The increased, though far from unlimited, freedom offered by home wireless networks is offset in some minds by a weakened performance as compared to high speed hardwire hook-ups.  These wireless LAN networks, or local area networks, often times set-up in households and/or local establishments, have been available to consumers for some time, making use of current wiring within a home or business, such as phone and power cables.  Only in recent years have providers successfully bridged the gap between high speed wireless internet connections and their hardwire counterparts.

It took 4 generations of wireless technology to get right, but today’s wireless internet coverage rivals landline hook-ups in terms of top end speeds and bandwidth, while offering unprecedentedly extensive coverage.  Companies best known as cell phone carriers made arguably the biggest strides in advancing wireless internet connection capabilities over the past decade.  HSPA technology, better known as 3G internet, offered more internet users widespread wireless coverage, primarily compatible with smartphones.  Though 3G wireless internet connections can’t deliver the full extent of the internet, cell phone users still enjoy light browsing and other less intense internet functionality.

However, over the past few years, a new era of 4G technology has greatly improved upon the introductory standard set by 3G service providers, bringing true broadband speeds to the airwaves.  CLEAR Internet created the first 4G internet network, using WiMAX technology.  Unlike its 3G network predecessors, 4G internet marks the first true attempt at widespread internet for full-fledged computer use.

Some cell phone carriers, including AT&T, have since focused their efforts on upgrading their 3G HSPA efforts to closer resemble 4G coverage, producing an HSPA+ grade 4G network, with plans still in place to expand to true 4G coverage in the coming years.  The more likely long term solution for such companies involves an upgrade from HSPA+ networks to WiMAX or LTE (long-term evolution) 4G coverage.   Currently, WiMAX technology is more widely available, with LTE offerings limited to select cities, though both should continue to appear in more markets worldwide as the proliferation of wireless technology continues.