27 August 2015

Mobile Broadband: Do I need a 3G or a 4G network?

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Most people in Australia own and use a mobile phone, but it is most probably fair to say that most of us have no idea about the networks we are using. We hear about 3G and 4G, but so long as our phone works, we are good to go.

The question about networks usually rears its head when we want to buy a new phone and the sales person asks us if we want a 3G or a 4G phone. Then it all comes unstuck, our eyes roll back in our head and we say that we just want a new phone – and what’s the difference anyway?

What’s the difference between 3G and 4G mobile networks?

The easiest explanation is that 4G is the updated version of 3G and it is better and faster.  Most internet providers offer both 4G and 3G to their customers and one of the most popular providers in Australia, iiNet, provides information about 4G and 3G connections for their mobile customers.
In essence, 4G connections are simply faster, allowing you to download movies, videos and files from the internet much faster than with a 3G connection.  It also has better reception than the 3G network, which is vital for Australians.

This is because currently, whilst most of Australia still uses 3G connections, some of the more remote areas in the outback continue to have trouble accessing 3G. This means that people in remote areas are often without an internet connection and cannot use their mobile phones.
So one of the reasons that 4G was developed was to bring fast, reliable internet connections to all areas of Australia, whether that is in the city, in more rural areas or in the outback.

Can I just use 4G connections?

No. You can’t decide to use one type of connection over another. The only way this is possible at all is if your phone only receives 3G connections; if you have a newer mobile device that can access the 4G network, then if this network is available, that is what your device will use.

So phones that are compatible with the 4G network will use 4G when it is available and 3G when it is not available. Most cities have 4G networks in Australia, but areas between cities tend to only have 3G and the more rural and remote you travel, the less reception you will receive.

Most internet providers in Australia are ramping up their 4G coverage to customers and when you buy a new phone, you will automatically access the 4G networks.

This means that you don’t have to make a choice between 4G or 3G, as the newer phones will automatically use either network.
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