Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

$50 billion so you can watch YouTube

Wireless carriers are spending $50 billion a year to improve their networks to deal with rising data demands from smartphones and tablets. Here's a look at what they're spending that on.

1 of 5
BACKNEXT
4G
The highest-profile network upgrade is to "4G," a kind of catch-all term that essentially means "a wireless network with faster speeds."

Sprint and Verizon have recently launched brand-new 4G networks, which use a completely different technology from their existing 3G networks. T-Mobile and AT&T have continued to invest in improving their existing networks, and T-Mobile has labeled its improved network "4G." AT&T is set to deploy its new 4G network next year.

4G technology tends use wireless frequencies more efficiently than 3G, meaning networks can cram more data into a signal than they had been able to in the past. But that's only one part of the solution.

"4G on its own is not going to solve the problem," said Ashkay Sharma, analyst at Gartner. "Networks have to adopt a more holistic solution."


NEXT: Spectrum
Last updated December 27 2010: 5:35 PM ET
More Galleries
Best cars for the super-rich The Robb Report has selected these as the best new cars and SUVs for anyone who doesn't have to worry about how much they spend. More
Banned! 10 things you won't find in China China says it wants to open its economy more to the rest of the world, but Beijing keeps a tight grip on technology and access to media. These 10 items are still off limits. More
A morning at the AltSchool, an education startup that Silicon Valley is crazy about The AltSchool is a system of "micro schools" and an education software maker that has raised about $133 million from investors like Andreessen Horowitz and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan's philanthropic fund. More

Special Offer