As Telecoms Hype 4G, Recall How Long 3G Was in Coming

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2009 2:01 PM CDT
Attendees walk next to the DMedia 4G WiMax booth at the Consumer Electronics Show. 4G is coming, sure, but it'll be a while til it's useful.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – 3G landed in the US in 2003. But it wasn’t until the iPhone came around five years later that “consumers finally had a device that showed them the power of mobile broadband networks,” Stephanie N. Mehta writes in Fortune. In fact, "a few executives at US wireless operators admitted at the time that 3G mainly allowed them to handle high volumes of voice calls at peak times.” So what’s all this hype about 4G now?

Even when the iPhone dropped, it “ran on AT&T’s less robust EDGE network, sometimes referred to as a 2.5G network.” Verizon and Sprint are gushing over their plans for a 4G network, Mehta writes, but to judge by 3G it will be years “before the services—and devices—are ready for primetime.” Only now is there “a real consumer case for 3G,” Mehta writes, “almost a decade after carriers pledged billions of dollars” to develop the tech. To say it will be different with 4G is hype. (Read more telecom stories.)