Samsung's fourth-generation wireless network is one solution. So is WiMAX, another wireless technology being developed by Clearwire, Intel and other investors. Telecom giants like AT&T and Comcast are also pouring billions into making their broadband cable networks faster. Many of these companies' efforts will flounder, as the cost of upgrading these networks is enormous; some will be forced to pass those costs on to consumers, resulting in high fees. Skeptics of 4G networks and other wireless technologies--which have so far failed to become a major force in Internet access--say fixed-line access through cable and DSL modems will continue to be cheaper and faster. Some analysts agree.
"Four-G is just much ado about nothing," said Edward F. Snyder, an analyst at Charter Equity Research. "There's no business model here, just a lot of marketing and hot air." One thing 4G is expected to be is fast. To qualify for 4G status, a network must be able to transmit one gigabit, or 1 billion bits of data, per second. That means you could download an entire movie in six seconds.