G Phone Wars

Friday, November 12, 2010 - 4:33pm

Faster phones will mean more video chatting.

Commercials from cell phone companies and cell phone carriers dominate the airwaves.

They're always pushing the latest and greatest feature.

Now, the hot phrase is "4G".

Many users will migrate from 3G to higher speed 4G networks over the next couple of years, and one result will be more video conferencing.

The enhanced bandwidth of 4G is what makes video chatting possible.

It also speeds up downloading.

The race to 4G has Tmobile irking some of its competitors with their ads.

"Sprint has a faster network in its 4G network. Tmobile is saying our network is just as fast, so we're going to call it 4G," explains MSNBC.com technical editor Wilson Rothman.

That's even though it may not meet the strictest technical definition of 4G.

For that matter, Sprint's 4G may not meet the standard, and Verizon which debuts its 4G later this year, may also come up short.

"To be honest, it's a marketing term that has no value. It doesn't make sense," says Rothman.

Rothman says advertising a phone's download speed and charging accordingly is a much more accurate way to advertise its performance.

"I know it sounds jargony, but it's a lot easier to understand than when you get into the nuts and bolts of what these technologies are called and what they do," he says.

Until that happens 3G and 4G will stay the buzz words in cellphone marketing.

AT&T debuts its 4G network next year.

As those networks grow the 3G phones that many of us have will continue to work, but only within their 3G network world.

New 4G phones will be backward compatible, meaning they'll work on 4g and in areas where that's not available, they'll work on 3G as well.

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