Aug 28, 2013

Dumping DSL? Making the Switch to 4G Internet

Simply thinking about switching your Internet services can lead to information overload as you take note of the dozens of available options. Dial-up, DSL, 3G service, 4G service, fiber optic technology: there are so many technical terms involved in establishing a new Internet service, it can be tough to know which one is best for you. For households with numerous mobile devices, switching to 4G Internet might make the most sense.

What is 4G Internet Anyway?

The “G” in the 4G label refers to "generation" of wireless technology. At its most basic level, 4G simply means 4th generation wireless Internet service. But what does that get you? Well, the first generation of wireless technology refers to old analog cell phones primarily used in the ‘80s and ‘90s, according to PC Mag. 2G technology brought basic digital technology to mobile devices -- these are now dubbed “feature phones” and typically offer voice and texting services. With 3G technology, mobile devices took a leap forward, connecting to the Internet and running apps.
The advent of 4G Internet technology may render 3G service obsolete, according to Huffington Post (2). The primary advantage of 4G wireless service is its blazing fast speeds. With more users on 3G networks, data traffic has slowed 3G service considerably. Most 4G Internet users get speeds of 10 to 30 Mbps, significantly higher than DSL or 3G connections.

Consider Your Coverage Area

Although Sprint, CLEAR, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and other carriers now offer 4G service, coverage varies by provider. Before making your choice, check out coverage maps offered by each Internet provider in your area. Most providers offer 3G service even if 4G is not yet available in your region. People living in very rural areas may not yet have access to 4G coverage, making DSL a better choice.

Deciding on an Internet Service That Is Best for You

Before making the switch to 4G service, consider key factors that may influence your choice:
  • Type of mobile devices: Manufacturers are in an arms race to come up with the best devices to offer 4G service. Check the technical specs on your laptop, smartphone, tablet, and other mobile devices. Nearly all of the latest devices offer 4G access, but those that are several years old may not be compatible with 4G service.
  • Typical Internet use: Think about your patterns of Internet use. Are you a heavy gamer? Someone who loves to stream Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube videos from your phone? Or do you mostly just send emails and surf the web? Individuals who frequently stream video, download songs, or upload pictures online will notice significant improvements in their Internet experience with 4G service.
  • Where do you need Internet access? Consider where you typically use the Internet and the places you need access the most. If you spend most of your online time at home, check out home 4G Internet solutions. People who love to browse the web while on the go may be content with mobile access.
  • Budget considerations: Keep in mind how much you’re willing to spend on Internet service. Faster 4G service might cause you to burn through data more quickly, resulting in higher bills. Comparison shop for the best rates in your area, paying close attention to data caps and overage charges before making the switch.
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