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What 4G Means For Consumers

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The new Sprint HTC Evo 4G smartphone is displayed at the International CTIA Wireless 2010 convention at the Las Vegas Convention Center March 24, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CTIA is the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The new Sprint HTC Evo 4G smartphone is displayed at the International CTIA Wireless 2010 convention at the Las Vegas Convention Center March 24, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CTIA is the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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MIAMI (CBS4) — We’re used to our cell phones being “smart” and able to do just about anything. But the ones we are using today are about to become obsolete as we enter the next phase of the telecommunications revolution.

As the so-called 4G network expands, more of us will be experiencing much greater capabilities with cell phones.

Chris Nicoll, a research analyst, says 4G represents a better wireless experience because it is so much faster than today’s 3G network.

He downloaded the same clip of video to each type of phone for us. With the 4G phone he quickly had a high definition picture on a larger phone screen. “It’s nice and smooth and the audio comes through smoothly. Then on 3G, I’ve got a standard def picture and it’s a little grainy and much smaller.”

Video chatting is something that we will take for granted because it’s standard on a 4G phone.

It will also be possible to download TV shows through your phone and hook it up to your flat screen, bypassing the cable box.

Jennifer Rivers of Best Buy Mobile explained, “You can hook up between five to eight devices right from your cell phone, so you can hook up a lap top on it, a Play Station 3 up to it if you are taking a family trip somewhere, and hop on the Internet using your phone’s Internet.”

As providers like T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint come on line, stores like Best Buy are seeing more interest from consumers. One man said, “That’s something that would appeal to me because I am not always around my computer, and there’s lots of things that I know that happen.”

Nicoll believes 4G reflects how we use cell phones today, and that the wireless companies are responding.

“It’s no longer about voice communication and data, and just browsing the web doesn’t generate much revenue, but if I can push services, if I can push content bundles, if I can hook up your entertainment, to your business applications; that represents an increase in commerce that operators want to tap into,” he explained.

Users will get more, but they’ll pay more too. Nicoll believes it’s worth it, however. “If I am getting a 10-time improvement in speed, but I am paying maybe 15, 20, 25 percent more, to me that represents a pretty good value.”

Nicoll believes the 4G networks will have another effect as well. People won’t be as focused on minutes anymore. As consumers use these new applications, the focus will shift to the quantity of data a consumer transmits and downloads instead.

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