LTE vs. 4G

4G vs. LTE

As a smartphone user, you’ve probably seen the 4G sign that is shown on the screen, near the signal strength.  What you’ve also probably noticed is sometimes the 4G sign is replaced with LTE or 4G LTE. Do you know the meaning of these symbols? And what do they mean?  While many smartphone users use the terms 4G and LTE interchangeably, they are not the same. Which is better, LTE or 4G, and which should you be connecting to? Here we present both LTE and 4G in detail, allowing you to differentiate between LTE vs. 4G, and how they relate to each other.

What is 4G?

Networks are divided into different generations based on connectivity, speed, and reliability standards. The International Telecommunication Union-Radio (ITU-R) sets these standards. The symbol 4G represents the 4th generation of network service.

Previously, we were using 2G and 3G, and we are rapidly heading towards 5G.

In 2008, 4G Standards were developed to replace 3G. 4G aimed to be better than 3G. Nowadays, 4G is used in most places, and probably it is the fastest network in today’s world. It is better than the previous generation in terms of capacity and bandwidth caps. Work is in progress, and soon you will see 5G taking the place of 4G. It will be a game-changer but be assured that 4G isn’t going anywhere.

Do you know 4G is about ten times faster and smarter than 3G networks? Most of the phones don’t support 3G now.

What is LTE?

Long Term Evolution, or LTE, is the technology behind 4G. We don’t see it, but it appears as 4G LTE on our screens. 4G was designed as a standard network for towers, phones, and other devices to communicate with each other. Some other standards were also developed like UMB and WiMax, but for cellular communications, 4G is the global technology standard.

All carriers use this standard because it is open and interoperable. Do you know almost all the smartphones use LTE today? Previously only the 4G was defined as a standard, but unfortunately, no phone can reach this standard. That’s why LTE was introduced. If your phone advertises 4G in specifications, it is using LTE technology.

LTE provides high-speed broadband and mobile data; it supports public safety and telephone service functions. A public safety network uses an LTE spectrum. Moreover, it also has the unique feature of network management. LTE assigns priorities to customers – for example, emergency calls than other calls. If multiple people are using the network, priorities will decide which call needs to be picked, and others will get dropped.

The speciality of LTE is that it is a self-organizing network. If there is an outage, then the call will be rerouted to other paths automatically. Once the service is restored, the network will come back to an optimally designed path.

What is 4G LTE-A?

LTE vs. 4G cannot be fully presented, without considering 4G LTE-A.  LTE+, LTE-A, and LTE-Advanced all refer to the same service. LTE-A is the advanced version of LTE, being more stable, faster, and with higher bandwidth. It provides a better user experience in the shape of faster downloads and less buffering. It offers 2-3 times more speed than standard LTE. LTE-A is trying to approach 4G in terms of speed, but it doesn’t look possible that it can reach there.

This network can use carrier aggregation, and up to 5 signals are combined to allow data to pass through antennas. When different carriers are combined with bandwidth, they provide faster speeds. LTE-A also contains a technology known as MIMO. It stands for multi-input and multi-output. It means that signals can be transmitted and received through different antennas. The combination of these two technologies provides improved traffic management of bandwidth and faster speeds.

LTE vs. 4G

In simple words, 4G is much faster than LTE. The main reason is that 4G meets the technical standards for which it is designed. Is it possible for a typical consumer to feel the difference between LTE and 4G? In most cases, the download speed can be compared unless you reside in a major city.

Cellular carriers are updating their existing LTE networks, thereby reducing the gap between LTE and 4G to some extent. Here we are talking about LTE-A, which is much faster than regular LTE.

If you want to take full advantage of 4G, you need a Smartphone that supports 4G, not just LTE. Older devices can’t provide 4G speeds because they were launched before 4G deployment. They don’t have the ability to handle 4G speeds. In the coming years, 5G will be in use, so cellular carriers must take this into account.

Differences between LTE vs. 4G

When it comes to LTE vs. 4G, there are a couple of key differences.

  • Speed – 4G is much quicker than LTE. Upload and download speeds of 4G are ten times faster than LTE.
  • Latency – When we compare LTE and 4G, 4G offers reduced latency. It means a device using 4G experiences a faster response and reduces the lag time. Reduced latency can make a significant difference when you are playing games. Moreover, reduced latency allows for clearer video and audio calls.

What about 5G vs. 4G vs. LTE?

5G is expected significantly better than 4G in every way. 5G boasts faster upload and download speeds, while offering reduced latency. Due to these charecteristics, 5G can take on data more efficiently than 4G can, making it ideal for next generation technologies such Internet of Things (IoT).

While 5G is on the horizon, the standard specifications for true 5G is yet to be set by the International Telecommunication Union-Radio (ITU-R).

However, as 3G still coexists with 4G and LTE today, 5G and 4G are likely to be used in parallel once 5G becomes standardized.

When it comes to 5G vs. 4G vs. LTE, as far as speeds are concerned, LTE-A still can’t reach 4G, and 5G is anticipated to offer blistering speeds greater than that provided by 4G.

Read more about 5G vs. 4G and the business opportunites presented by 5G.

While 5G is just around the corner, 4G isn’t going anywhere. Therefore, once available, don’t expect 5G to immediately replace 4G and LTE. However, 5G is well poised to make a global introduction, further narrowing the gap between each iteration of cellular network technological advancement.

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