A new upgraded technology is about to be unleashed in Nepal known as 4G. For the more tech savvy folks, the term is synonymous with blazing fast mobile internet, while the rest will soon come to understand what all the fuss is about and how it will transform their lives.
What is 4G?
Every decade or so, there is a big breakthrough. 4G is the latest advancement in wireless mobile communication technology. The term 4G implies ‘fourth generation’. And another name used in conjunction with 4G is “LTE”, short for Long Term Evolution. So you may see something like “4G/LTE” in advertisements.
Notice the H or H+ (sometimes the dreaded “E”) icons on your phone when you turn on mobile data? That’s old school 3G, while the “E” icon harks back to the 2G era (think 1990s). There will be a shiny new icon if you are on a 4G supported network.
You can think of 4G as having speeds similar to your home Wi-Fi, unless you are on slow ADSL. My sympathies!
Who is offering 4G?
At the time of writing this article in late February, Nepal Telecom (NTC) is the only one offering 4G/LTE which is a bit of a surprise considering that they are the old dogs in Nepal’s growing telecommunications market. Maybe the old dog has a bite or two left in them after all. Before we start praising NTC too much, it is important to note that only postpaid NTC users are able to use 4G.
For pre-paid users, NCell is the best option but their 4G plans are still in the pipeline as of now and expected to materialize in the coming months.
What can you do with 4G?
Now that you know what 4G is and where to get it, you can use the magic that is 4G.
Let this fact sink in first. A typical 3G connection can deliver speeds up to 21Mbps while a 4G connection does up to 300Mbps. That’s insanely fast! With such speeds, everything will load so much faster, from Facebook to YouTube to whatever else you do on the internet. Here is a list of areas that 4G will make an impact.
If you’ve tried to Skype a loved one overseas while on mobile data, the experience is less than satisfactory. With 4G, video calls will finally allow you to talk and see the other person instead of seeing blocks of pixel while hearing the voice cut out intermittently.
“Hello! Can you hear me?!” Similar to video calls, the quality of voice calls should improve drastically once 4G is implemented. There is a feature in 4G called Voice over LTE (or VoLTE) as everything you say and hear is transmitted as data via your 4G network instead of the traditional voice network. Even the time taken for the call to connect is faster. So there’s no more waiting and wondering if the phone call is connecting or if you have enough balance to make the call.
If you have no Wi-Fi nearby but still want to watch a video on YouTube, you will have to use 3G. It will load the video in decent time, but the quality of the video is compromised due to the low speed. So you may end up watching random pixels jumping around on your mobile device. With 4G, the videos will load ever faster with high quality settings automatically, resulting in a much clearer video being streamed to your device.
You’ve taken a nice photo with your nice phone and want to share it with everyone you know on social media. You start the upload process; it asks you if you want to upload a lower quality version in no time or a high quality version in the time it takes you to sing a song. Most choose the lower quality option. Try uploading a video using 3G and you’ll want to go make a cup of tea, watch the sun go down and come back to find your video still hasn’t uploaded. On 4G you’ll go nuts uploading high quality photos and videos in a matter of seconds. Then go back to browsing cat videos.
Online Gaming and Wi-Fi Hotspot
When I play online games such as Team Fortress 2 and The Path of Exile, I’m usually on my home Wi-Fi as it has a decent connection of 5 Mbps. This allows me to play with minimal latency issues but sometimes, there’s just too many people connected on the home Wi-Fi network. With 4G (3G currently), I can simply switch on mobile data and turn my smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot, where I can resume playing online with no one else sucking up precious bandwidth.
Can my device handle all this magic?
Not all devices are created equal. To check if your phone is ready to move into the new world, you should head into your device settings.
For Apple users (Menu names may vary):
Go to Settings > General > Cellular > Enable 4G
For Android users (Menu names may vary):
Go to Settings > Sim Card > Mobile Network > Select 4G
If you’re still not sure if your phone can support 4G, it might be a sign from the universe that you haven’t arrived yet. For everyone else, it will be like Hagrid saying, “Harry - Yer a wizard”.