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
Here's what costs more than a barrel of oil Oil prices have crashed to below $27 a gallon -- a level not seen since 2003 -- which makes a barrel of crude cheaper than lots of everyday purchases that we don't think twice about. More
Super Bowl 50 ads are studded with celebrities The 2016 Super Bowl has rolled out the red carpet for the likes of Helen Mirren, Amy Schumer, Seth Rogen, Steven Tyler and the late, great Marilyn Monroe. More
The women of marijuana These women entrepreneurs and executives are making their mark in the marijuana industry. More

Special Offer