5G vs. LTE

Thursday, October 10, 2019

To understand 5G it’s helpful to understand what came before it.

  • 1G, the first generation of mobile technology, was about voice. The ability to use a phone in a car, or anywhere else.
  • 2G introduced a short-messaging layer.
  • 3G provided the essential network speeds for smartphones.
  • 4G is the fourth Generation Mobile Network Technology, which with its blazing data-transfer rates, gave rise to many of the connected devices and services that we rely on and enjoy today.

5G is the fifth generation of cellular technology. It is designed to increase speed, reduce latency, and improve flexibility of wireless services. 5G technology has a theoretical peak speed of 20 Gbps (comparing to the peak speed of 4G - 1 Gbps). This is the biggest and most noticeable difference between 4G and 5G: 5G will be up to 10 times faster than 4G. 

Because 5G taps into a range of extremely high radio frequencies, the capacity to support huge amounts of high-speed data will take a giant leap.

LTE, on the other hand, stands for Long Term Evolution sometimes referred as 4G LTE, standard for wireless broadband communication for mobile devices and data terminals. LTE is commonly marketed as “4G LTE” and “Advance 4G”.

Since 5G can also use shorter wavelengths than LTE, high amounts of data will be transmitted more efficiently, with a significant reduction in latency. That means stronger network reliability, noticeably faster downloads, and support for more connected devices—IoT, self-driving cars, smart communities—than ever before. 5G technology should also improve connectivity in underserved rural areas and in cities where demand can outstrip today's capacity with 4G technology.

4G LTE has grown to accommodate many different technologies under its banner: for example, LWA (LTE-WLAN) aggregation helps to support connectivity in dense environments. 5G refines these steps and builds on prior generations to improve spectral efficiency and connection quality, especially in dense urban environments. Its scope is designed to be broad and applicable not just for high-performance mobile or Enterprise devices, but also down to ultra-low power, long-life and always connected IoT devices too.

Just because 5G is beginning to roll out, that doesn’t mean 4G is finished or that it has stopped evolving. The latest top 4G technology to be developed is LTE-A (Long-Term Evolution Advanced) and it promises a maximum speed of 1Gbps, though the realistic average will likely be comparable to the lower end of 5G. There’s also LTE-Advanced Pro, which is even faster still.

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