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Why Do I Need 4G?

Discussion in 'iPad 2 Forum' started by dino702, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. dino702
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    dino702 iPF Noob

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    Just bought an iPad 2 and have 3g service with it. Just bought 4g mobile hot spot from AT&T also ($50.00 per mo.) and was wondering what the benefits of 4g are?

    I watch movies with my iPad, check e-mail, surf the net, Skype and that's about it.

    Seems like 3g works pretty well.

    I may be returning the 4g device to AT&T since it's within my 14 days.

    Thanks for the responses.
  2. MoonlitSonata
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    MoonlitSonata Super Moderator Staff Member

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  3. TreeM
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    TreeM iPF Noob

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    is it LTE? There was confusion about at&t "4g" which was really 3g on steroids and LTE, which is on another planet in terms of speed
  4. Kaykaykay
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    Kaykaykay iPad Wizard

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    Seems like a question that should've been asked before purchase.
  5. wxman2003
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    wxman2003 iPF Novice

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    I heard AT&T was already up and running in parts of New York City, although it is still considered not operational yet.
  6. dino702
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    dino702 iPF Noob

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    It has both 4g and LTE. The purchase sounded good at the time and now maybe buyers remorse since I have to travel a mile away from my house to get any 4g service.
  7. jsh1120
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    jsh1120 iPad Addict

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    AT&T's 4G network is, indeed, LTE. And if the OP purchased a "4G" hotspot from AT&T it is almost certainly an LTE hotspot. My 4G/LTE mobile hotspot from Verizon runs from 7-10 times faster than 3G. The AT&T hotspot should have similar performance. But the AT&T 4G/LTE network is currently tiny compared to Verizon's (which covers about 200 cities in the US) and it will be another year before the AT&T network is deployed across the nation.

    Another major advantage from my standpoint is that my mobile hotspot can connect up to five devices simultaneously. Thus, I use it for the iPad, my phone, and my laptop simultaneously. And because I'm allotted five gigs of downloads per month (for $50 on contract) I don't usually have to worry about exceeding that ceiling and being charged additionally.

    For me, the mobile hotspot is a tremendous convenience because I travel a lot and frequently find that "free wifi" in hotels is worth what I'm paying for it. On the other hand, if the OP is a light user of a cell network, does not travel to or live in an AT&T 4G/LTE coverage area, and has already purchased an iPad with 3G capabilities, the additional value of a mobile hotspot may not be worth the $50 per month it costs.
  8. choPppps
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    choPppps iPF Novice

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    I would say if you have to travel, then you have a legitimite reason to return it. They must have some sort of guarantee.
  9. tlbaker
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    tlbaker iPad Ninja

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    You have such good information!! Thanks as always.

    Sent from my Tricked Out, Sparkly Pink Black Verizon 32GB iPhone 4 using iPF
  10. MacDan
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    MacDan iPF Novice

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    Very Little. I'm on Sprint's "4G" and i must say that the marginal speed improvement is not worth the drain on the battery.

    Until they get the power consumption handled, 4G is not ready for prime time.
  11. wxman2003
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    wxman2003 iPF Novice

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    That's why I don't think we will see the iPad 3 with 4G capabilities. If the iPad 3 does come out in February, it likely would be a 3G model.
  12. jsh1120
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    jsh1120 iPad Addict

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    Unfortunately, because there is no agreed upon standard for what constitutes "4G" carriers are free to claim "4G" for any network that goes beyond (however minimally) 3G speeds. Sprint's "4G" network is probably the worst offender in this area. Verizon's 4G/LTE is much, much faster than 3G. The same is true of AT&T's 4G/LTE network although the coverage is very limited at this time. My 4G/LTE Verizon hotspot is about 7-10 times faster than 3G. The battery drain is about 20% greater (4 hours versus 5 hours). For me, the tradeoff is well worth it. YMMV.
  13. MacDan
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    MacDan iPF Novice

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    It's sill a non issue in my book. 3g works fine for every app. From Pandora to streaming the bandwidth hungry Netflix. No torrents :(

    Not to mention that with bandwidth caps at 2-5 gigs all you're doing is using up your allotment at a faster pace.
  14. jsh1120
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    jsh1120 iPad Addict

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    "Using up your allotment at a faster pace?" Only if you value the time you spend waiting. Try this little experiment in arithmetic. If you download X bytes in Y seconds using 3G, and you download X bytes in Y seconds/10 with 4G, you haven't used your allotment at a faster pace; you've simply had more time to examine the content and less time waiting for the download to complete. The download is still X bytes.

    What I find is that 3G is reasonable as long as there is little bandwidth contention, especially if the focus is audio downloads. However, since 4G/LTE networks can support much higher demand without degradation and perform much faster under all conditions, I've never experienced choppiness in video downloads. That's not true for a heavily used 3G network.
  15. Kaykaykay
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    Kaykaykay iPad Wizard

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    I've noticed video streaming choppiness on 3G in the U.S., but I don't use it enough for it to matter. I wouldn't trade 10% battery life, much less 20%, for faster speeds. 3G is fast enough for me, given the tradeoff. When I stream video, I'm typically on wi-fi.
  16. MacDan
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    I agree 100% but i think jsh1120 does make a good point also. When i'm in the city i do notice a bit of lag when streaming content. So in that respect having 4G is a plus. I'm just not sure it's a must.

    It seems to me like a new feature the carriers can dangle in front of customers to get them to upgrade. Not to mention Sprint charging me an extra $10 bucks a month.
  17. jsh1120
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    jsh1120 iPad Addict

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    Just to clarify my point. I don't think 4G is "a must," either. Especially (given the reviews of its performance I've seen) not the "4G" offered by Sprint. I have a mobile hotspot primarily because I need to be able to access the internet from several devices simultaneously even when wifi is not available (at a customer site) or the "free wifi" in a hotel is pure crap. Given that I have those requirements, I certainly didn't need a 3G iPad with an additional data plan (even a non-contract data plan) at a premium ($130) price. The fact that my "mifi" hotspot runs on the Verizon 4G/LTE network was simply an additional benefit. And frankly, I've been amazed at how well it performs and the widespread coverage I've experienced. (I really didn't expect 4G coverage in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for example, but it's there.)

    For someone like Kaykaykay who streams video primarily on a fast wifi network (unlike the less than .50 mps performance I often get in a hotel with "free" wifi), the advantage of 4G is negligible. I almost never turn on my mifi hotspot at home, for example. And for anyone who needs internet access at a location away from an AC power source for more than 4 hours at a time, 4G is literally useless since it's probably not even available out in the woods miles from the nearest outlet. In my case the 4G hotspot comes in very handy as noted above at customer sites where I don't have to rely on accessing the net via a secured local network and the IT guy is either suspicious of my motives or not available today or at a hotel where "wifi" is little better than "edge" level performance. In those cases, the user experience over 4G is literally indistinguishable from my very fast cable modem/wifi network in my home and I don't have to go through the hoops of getting a network password from an IT guy who thinks I'm a terrorist trying to hack the organization's network or trying to explain "wifi" to a hotel desk clerk. Believe me, I've been down those roads many times in the past and it's not pleasant.

    My requirements are challenging. Most folks don't have to deal with these issues. For many (probably most) people a non-contract 3G iPad is perfectly satisfactory and less expensive than the alternatives. And for those who have smartphones (iPhones and others) where only 3G tethering is available, it may well be quite satisfactory. Finally, for those on contract to a carrier with very limited 4G/LTE coverage (AT&T) or where "4G" is a marketing term rather than a technical term (Sprint), its value is, imo, negligible.
  18. Kaykaykay
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    Kaykaykay iPad Wizard

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    I'd probably be willing to cough 10 more bucks for 4G if I could keep unlimited data, but only without giving up battery life. It's not that I don't see the appeal of speed; I just value battery life more than a speed upgrade.
  19. jsh1120
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    jsh1120 iPad Addict

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    Just an FYI along this line. Verizon currently allows one to upgrade to a 4G/LTE phone (with tethering) and maintain one's unlimited data plan. Of course, as MacDan points out, this is simply another feature that Verizon "dangles" in front of an existing customer to promote re-enrollment in multiyear contracts. Nevertheless, when my mifi hotspot contract expires, I'll probably move to a 4G/LTE phone and eliminate the additional line and device.

    As noted on another thread, this stuff is so damn complicated that I think a consultant could make a living advising consumers on minimizing cost and maximizing performance on cell devices.
  20. Kaykaykay
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    Kaykaykay iPad Wizard

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    Thanks, I'm on AT&T GSM because of overseas use; I just switch out my SIMs when away from the U.S. I've also opted not to tether, for battery and convenience reasons.

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