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4G explained: A guide to LTE, WiMax, HSPA+, and more

If you’ve seen or heard an ad about a cell phone or wireless plan lately, you may have noticed that a lot of new buzzwords are being thrown around. Words like 4G, LTE, and WiMax seem to have replaced the last set of words we barely understood: 3G, GSM, and CDMA. But what does it all mean? Is it all a bunch of marketing nonsense or are these words you should know and understand? We’ve got the scoop in our official mobile broadband FAQ. 

Read on to learn what 4G is, why you should want it, and which carriers and devices are already pushing forward into the next generation of mobile data where your phone’s Internet may actually run faster than your home Wi-Fi. And once you’ve learned about 4G networks check out our picks of the best 4G cell phones.

The basics of 4G

  • What is 4G?
  • Do I have a 4G-capable phone?
  • Does my wireless carrier offer 4G?
  • What is the ITU?

The three flavors of 4G

  • What is WiMax?
  • What is LTE?
  • What’s the difference between LTE and WiMax?
  • What is HSPA+?

4G wireless carrier breakdown

  • How is AT&T handling 4G?
  • How is Sprint handling 4G?
  • How is T-Mobile handling 4G?
  • How is Verizon handling 4G?

Article Updates

  • 8/04/2011: Article updated all around, including 4G status and devices for all 4 U.S. wireless carriers. 
  • 2/23/2011: Originally published

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