Feeds

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

Verizon goes all-IP, AT&T hedges bets

New hybrid storage solutions

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
Shades of Mannesmann: Vodafone should buy T-Mobile US
Biting the bullet would let Blighty-based biz flip the bird at AT&T
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.