America’s four largest operators have started claiming that they each have a 4G network, but do Americans actually know what that even means? Nielsen surveyed over 2,131 adults to find out if they could break beyond the hype, and the results are surprisingly not too shabby. Of all the people surveyed around 83% have heard the term 4G somewhere. Of those 83% only 51% (893 people from the original 2,131) claim they actually knew what 4G meant. Of those 893 people nearly 54% of them recognized the original ITU definition of 4G, which was a network providing wireless access at over 100 Mbps. That sadly no longer applies since the ITU decided to appease the operators and say 4G could be anything from HSPA+ to LTE to even WiMAX. Again, of those 893 people who said they understand 4G, a staggering 27% thought that term meant “iPhone 4”. Not the sharpest tools in the shed, and we’d like to say we understand why they’re confused, but everything is just a Wikipedia search away these days.
The all important question was then asked: are you going to buy a 4G device in the next 12 months? Faster speeds, lower latencies, you’d think an overwhelming majority would say yes, right? Not even 30% of respondents to Nielsen’s survey said they were interested. This could be due to several factors, namely many people purchased a smartphone during the past 12 months so they’ll have to wait 2 years to upgrade. That or we haven’t really seen the beginning of the flood of 4G ads that will practically be on loop, urging you to get a new phone by making you feel like the one in your pocket is too slow and clunky.
At the end of the day it really just comes down to coverage and speed. Always pick the operator who gives you the best coverage in the areas of town that you tend to hang around most, and if they all do a good job then go with the fastest. Easy as pie.