Feeds

4G or 'faux G', it's a mealy-mouthed marketing mishmash

Verizon goes all-IP, AT&T hedges bets

High performance access to file storage

If you find yourself a bit unsure as to exactly what marketeers mean when they use the term "4G", you're not alone – telecom and research execs are equally unhappy with the fog surrounding that term.

"I'm not sure there is an exact definition," Mike Nielsen, Ciena's VP for Carrier Ethernet and Switching Solutions told The Reg when we asked for help defining 4G at a "Broadcom Brainstorming" event on Monday in downtown San Francisco.

To Nielsen, the term is broad enough to cover WiMAX, LTE, and other technologies. But seeing as how Ciena is a telco- and enterprise-level networking provider, he doesn't instinctively look at 4G from a user's perspective. "Pragmatically, for me," he said, "it's more when you're talking about hundreds of megabits to gigabits coming out of the cell tower."

Michael Howard, cofounder and principal analyst at Infonetics Research, noted that there is a 4G standard – presumably referring to the International Telecommunications Union's IMT-Advanced – but that hasn't stopped marketeers from muddying the waters. The confusion is enough to have caused his research group to use two definitions in their writings: "marketing 4G" and "standards 4G".

"LTE isn't even 4G. LTE Advanced is 4G," he said.

"Sprint started this marketing game of calling it 4G. The truth is, though, if you look at LTE bandwidths, you look at 4G bandwidths, and the HSPA+ bandwidths, they're the same," he said.

This usurpation of the term 4G for marketing purposes, Howard said, is not a worldwide problem, but a North American problem, thanks to Sprint.

Edward Doe, the product line director, of Broadcom's Network Switch Infrastructure and Networking Group, had another take on what he called "faux G" – that it's had a positive effect. "It's forced people to go to all IP," he said, speaking of telecom infrastructure.

"3G, and two-and-a-half G, and three-and-a-half G – all allowed for keeping the TDM backhaul," he said, referring to the Time Division Multiplexing system used in circuit-switched networks such as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

But with the advent of 4G – or, for that matter faux G – telecoms are deciding that it's time to move beyond that legacy system, Doe said, and move to packet-switched IP backhauls. "It's really going to create a little bit of a waterfall, or a tidal wave, or a tsunami kind of effect on the backhaul," he said, quickly ratcheting up his liquid metaphor to describe the infrastructure upgrade effort and expense that telecoms face.

Howard noted that recent spending on backhaul equipment reflects that effort. "In the last three years the spending on backhaul equipment worldwide has moved from 80 per cent to 88 per cent, and this year to 91 per cent on IP Ethernet backhaul equipment," he said.

Although some of that spending is on microwave equipment upon which you can run TDM and Ethernet at the same time, the trend is clear. Verizon, for example, is moving totally to an IP backhaul. AT&T, and the other hand, is going with a hybrid system, with voice and data running over a packet-based system, but with a TDM system running in parallel to handle such matters as packet timing.

"Since they own a bunch of them," Howard said," they're just going to keep their T1s, do the timing there, and then do the packets." According to Howard, AT&T doesn't know how long this hybrid arrangement will hold up, but they're estimating "somewhere around 2015, 16, 17."

By then, we may all have settled on exactly what 4G means. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.