In 2016, it is estimated that 62.9 percent of the entire world population owned and uses a mobile phone. This number is expected to grow to 67 percent in 2019. Most of this growth is attributed to the increasing popularity of smartphones. Smartphones are a class of mobile phones and of multi-purpose mobile computing devices, known for its stronger hardware capabilities and extensive mobile Operating Systems.
Their uses include but are not limited to web browsing, listening to music, watching videos, taking pictures and videos, gaming, voice calls, text messaging, etc. Smartphones also include a magnetometer, proximity sensors, barometer, gyroscope, an accelerometer, and support wireless communications protocols such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and satellite navigation.
Smartphones have become a necessity. Just take a stroll outside and you will see people with their hands clutching the latest smartphone models. Smartphones have invaded our lives and has become a staple, a necessity even, both for work and for a personal life. This dependency on smartphones has caused the rise of multi-billion dollar companies like Apple and Samsung, who are now currently dominating the world market for smartphones.
The introduction of 3G technology cemented the use of smartphones into our lives. 3G allowed its users to wirelessly connect to the internet with a far greater speed than 2G can ever allow. Years after and 4G was introduced. 4G now allowed users to play on their phone, video conferencing, High-Definition mobile TV, etc. 4G LTE or Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution delivers up to 10 times faster than 3G.
With this on-the-go technology, anyone with a 4G-enabled smartphone can now access the internet with no speed restrictions. There are even times when 4G LTE is considered faster than the regular Wi-Fi broadband. With all of this in mind, you would think that 4G LTE would be available all over the world. Sadly, it is not.
4G LTE requires a more advanced type of technology to transmit signals. Simply put, the existing cell sites and towers today are not enough to transmit the microwaves to sustain the speed promised by 4G LTE. Despite such a marvellous innovation, there are still some limitations to it.
However, as the demand for 4G LTE increases, wireless mobile carrier companies like AT&T and Verizon have succumbed to the pressure. They have installed 4G LTE Cell sites and Towers on most commercial areas and cities. This meant that more than half of the world’s population get to enjoy the high speeds of 4G LTE. No more buffering needed.
If you’re living in a more secluded area and getting slow internet speed, you might still be relying on 3G cell sites or towers instead of 4G. Or perhaps the nearest cell tower is quite far. Usually, users who are tired of slow speeds and a high amount of dropped calls request for cell towers to be installed near their area. This is usually one of the best ways to get better service.
This is another limitation to wireless technology. They still depend on cell sites and towers to transmit their signals. This would mean that the farther you get away from it, the weaker your signal, the slower your internet speed will become. Thankfully, companies have invented a solution that doesn’t require huge amounts of space for a cell tower to be installed.
Instead, now they are installing cell sites on top of rented high-rise properties or buildings. Space/Real Estate in the city is quite valuable. It is simply just illogical to allot hectares of land just for a simple cell tower when it can be divided into smaller units. Usually installed in a high property, cell sites support antennae and one or more sets of transmitter/receivers called transreceivers, digital signal processors, control electronics, a GPS driver for timing, primary and backup electrical power sources. They are usually installed on rooftops though some are known to be installed inside dead trees as stealth cell sites.
In summary, while 4G LTE provides its users a lot of uses, it still has a lot of limitations i.e. cell site availability and budget. It is quite costly as a lot of new infrastructure and technology are still being built to support it. However, given time, I am sure that 4G LTE, like smartphones, would be part of the everyday life of humans too.