The 4G Obsession and the Mobile Computing Revolution

It's a quiet little revolution that's stretching across the globe: 4G and WiMAX are spreading like wildfire. Why are people infatuated with this new wireless Internet technology? What's to love?

It turns out that the fans aren't restricted to one particular group. Avid gamers, multitasking moms, swamped students, and Google-searching grandpas are all proclaiming their undying love for this fourth generation of mobile Internet service. They're all hoping 4G is 4Ever, because now that they can work and play anywhere without a slow connection, they're hooked. There's no going back.

WiMAX is the technology that makes this fourth generation possible. Using a giant cloud of harmless microwaves between towers, this new service is deployed relatively quickly in cities. It's already offered in most major metro areas in the U.S., with more cities added on a monthly basis. And it's not restricted to America: more than 150 countries have WiMAX in place. Its popularity stems from its use of towers and clouds rather than wires or small Wi-Fi hotspots. Because it's up to five times faster than 3G and isn't a wire-based service, users are able to use their laptops while in motion.

It's like the difference between a remote-control toy car and a wired car - one is much more fun than the other. 4G versus DSL is like freedom versus limitation. Gamers can play online at the same speed as they could through DSL. Parents can keep the kids busy on the laptop while driving around town, while grandma and grandpa can go over their retirement portfolio at their favorite restaurant. There's no Wi-Fi hotspot needed. Your city is your hotspot; your favorite restaurant is your hotspot; your local swimming pool is your hotspot. Students can video chat with parents while riding the bus. The potential uses are limited by your imagination.

Some people admittedly sign up to for the service simply because they like cutting edge technology. This technology is simply better and faster than 3G. The only initial reservation that some people have expressed is the fact that you must be in a 4G zone in order to have coverage. This is partially correct. You can only use 4G in cities that offer the service, and not all cities are yet covered. However, more cities are added all the time. 3G wasn't offered everywhere at first. It takes time. If you're extremely concerned about having coverage outside the city, you can opt for the 3G/4G dual-mode card that allows you to hook into the 3G network. Granted, you won't have 4G speeds, but you'll at least be able to have some service.

Users that are particularly fanatical about this new Internet technology are the ones who multitask endlessly. They are what you'd call Type A personalities. They can't stay seated and they have to be busy with something all the time. They're driven and ambitious. With DSL or cable technology, the broadband speed is there, but the mobility is not. 4G, however, allows our Type A friends to cut the cord and take care of business on the road. They can watch live sports while sitting in a waiting room or buy stocks on the train. Take their 4G away from them, and you'll have a mutiny on your hands.