The difference between phone networks - | WBTV Charlotte

The difference between phone networks

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

If you're buying a new Smart phone, you'll first need to choose a type of data network.

There are several options available…and it can get confusing.

You will constantly hear the terms 3G, 4G, and LTE used to sell phones and tablets.

First things first, "G" stands for a generation of mobile technology, installed in phones and on cellular networks.

A simple rule to follow is each generation will offer faster Internet speeds than the last.

"A 3G phone working on a 3G network is able to surf the Internet, you can send email you can send text but when you're surfing the Internet you might suffer some buffering or interruption in that video," said AT&T Spokesman Josh Gelinas.

4G phones are supposed to be even faster.

"Not have any buffering or that interruption you get from time to time watch the video, surf the Internet upload content to twitter or facebook," said Gelinas.

LTE is yet another acronym which stands for Long Term Evolution.

It's the network that people are going to be working with for years to come.

"The fastest one we have, you're able to surf the Internet, upload content to social media and there's almost no interruption," said Gelinas. 

"It's really kind of what folks are used to at home."

When buying a phone what the consumer really has to consider is how much data they want to use each month.

"And that's where you have to be conscious as the consumer and look at the plans that are available," said Gelinas.

"You can spend anywhere from $50 a month to $100 depending on how much data you want to use."

Mobile carriers, such as Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T are still building out their 4G networks.

If you live in an area that doesn't have 4G or LTE coverage, there's no advantage to a 4G and LTE phone.

All the main carriers' web sites have coverage maps for their cellular data networks, which you can check to see what service is available in your area.  

You should also to discuss with the carrier what happens if you get the phone home and you cannot get service.   Can you opt out of the deal?  

Ask before you buy.

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