Logic says 4G is one generation beyond 3G and therefore it’s faster and more fun, and gives you more prestige in the pecking order. Well, not that last one. Whatever you may believe about 3G and 4G, here comes author, Farhad Manjoo with a rant about how you could be wrong. In reality 3G and 4G mean nothing, said he, and you’re a fool for believing one is better than the other. Evolved High Speed Packet Access or HSPA+ is commonly known as 3G technology. Long Term Evolution or LTE is supposedly faster and therefore considered 4G. All was calm on the 3G and 4G fronts until engineers decided to mess with the assumptions, figuring out a way to make the HSPA+ networks run as fast and possibly faster (168 megabits per second) than LTE networks, which run out of gas at 150 megabits per second.
The horses in the race, so to speak are wireless carriers who own the HSPA+ and LTE networks. LTE is more expensive to build but it would probably be worth the investment to command the 4G label. If HSPA+ can also get the 4G label merely because of speeds, then, what gives? At first AT&T objected to HSPA+ getting the 4G label but then changed its mind because its HSPA+ network is larger than its LTE network. Now, AT&T uses the 4G label for both its HSPA+ and LTE networks. This matters for iPad customers. If they’re on AT&T, they may not notice a difference in speed when switching between HSPA+ and LTE coverage. But for Verizon customers, leaving an LTE area sends them to a slower 3G network. Ultimately, says Manjoo, it doesn’t really matter because downloading speeds are variable for different devices and, “what you’re promised will never be what you get.”