4G vs. LTE: Understanding the Difference

businessman talking phone work
businessman talking phone work

The terms 4G and LTE are frequently used interchangeably, but while they both represent advanced mobile network technologies, they’re not synonymous with each other. In today’s digital age, where being connected is integral to our lives and our work, knowing the difference between these technological terms can be beneficial. So, what sets 4G and LTE apart? In this article we’re going to take a closer look at the distinction between LTE and 4G, where both terms originate from, compare their benefits and explore the capabilities of each technology. 

It’s important to understand how Mobile Signal Boosters interact with 4G and LTE technology, signal boosters will only boost 3G, 4G or 5G, while LTE is a pathway for progress and not an actual band that can be boosted. Commercial signal boosters will have access to up to 15 bands and cover large areas, whereas domestic signal boosters will be limited to between 3-5 bands and will operate at lower power.

Where does 4G and LTE come from?

The term 4G stands for the fourth generation of mobile network technology. It succeeded the third-generation (3G) networks and brought significant improvements in terms of speed, capacity, and overall performance. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) set specific standards for 4G networks, including peak data transfer rates and overall network performance expectations.

Each iteration or improvement to the cellular network technology being used was given a new Generation or G, such as 2G or 3G, with the G simply standing for Generation. For each new generation of technology, speeds and connectivity are vastly improved upon, with 3G being the first generation fast enough for smartphone technology to work and advance.

Long-Term Evolution (LTE), on the other hand, is a wireless communication standard that was developed to transition the existing 3G networks towards the envisioned 4G standards. LTE served as an interim solution, offering improved performance over 3G networks while paving the way for a full-fledged 4G network.

Understanding 4G

4G represents the pinnacle of mobile network technology, delivering high data rates, reduced latency, and improved reliability. To be classified as 4G, a network must meet specific requirements set by the ITU. These requirements include download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for mobile users and up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) for fixed wireless access.

Key features of 4G networks include:

  1. Enhanced Speed: 4G networks offer significantly faster download and upload speeds compared to previous generations. This allows users to stream high-definition videos, engage in real-time gaming, and download large files quickly.
  2. Low Latency: Latency refers to the delay between sending a data packet from the source to its destination. 4G networks have significantly lower latency compared to their predecessors, resulting in near-instantaneous response times.
  3. Improved Capacity: 4G networks have greater capacity, enabling them to handle more simultaneous connections and data traffic. This capacity is crucial in supporting the ever-increasing number of connected devices.

Understanding LTE

LTE, as mentioned earlier, is part of the evolutionary path towards 4G networks. It serves as an intermediate step between 3G and 4G, offering substantial improvements over 3G networks while not fully meeting the requirements set for 4G. Despite this, LTE is often marketed as 4G or referred to as 4G LTE due to its improved performance.

Key features of LTE include:

  1. Increased Speed: LTE networks provide significantly faster download and upload speeds compared to 3G networks. This enables seamless streaming, faster web browsing, and smoother online experiences.
  2. Reduced Latency: Although not as low as true 4G networks, LTE reduces latency compared to 3G networks, resulting in improved response times for various applications.
  3. Spectrum Efficiency: LTE is designed to utilize the available spectrum more efficiently, allowing for better utilization of network resources and improved overall performance.

Differences between 4G and LTE

While 4G and LTE share many similarities, there are some distinguishing factors that set them apart. Here are some key differences:

  1. Network Standards: 4G is a defined standard set by the ITU that encompasses various technologies, including LTE, WiMAX, and HSPA+. LTE, on the other hand, is a specific technology that falls within the 4G family.
  2. Peak Speeds: 4G networks, according to the ITU standards, are capable of achieving higher peak download and upload speeds compared to LTE networks. While LTE networks offer significant speed improvements over 3G, they do not typically reach the maximum speeds of true 4G networks.
  3. Latency: True 4G networks have lower latency than LTE networks, resulting in faster response times. While LTE does bring latency improvements compared to 3G, it still falls slightly short of the ideal 4G latency targets.
  4. Market Terminology: Due to marketing strategies and consumer expectations, LTE networks are often referred to as 4G or marketed as 4G LTE. This has led to some confusion among users regarding the actual differences between 4G and LTE.

In conclusion, 4G and LTE are not interchangeable terms, although they are related. 4G represents the fourth generation of mobile network technology, while LTE serves as an intermediate step towards achieving the full 4G capabilities. 4G networks offer higher speeds, lower latency, and improved capacity compared to LTE networks. However, LTE networks still bring noticeable improvements over previous-generation networks and are often marketed as 4G. It is important for consumers to understand these distinctions in order to make informed decisions about their mobile network choices.

Also Read: 7 Reasons Why Your 4G is Slow & How to Overcome It

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The Mobile Signal Solutions Team is a group of highly skilled and celfi certified professionals providing reliable communication solutions for businesses. With extensive experience in the field and a passion for staying at the forefront of technology, our team has established as an expert in the industry. In addition to our core services, we also share our expertise and industry knowledge through our blog writing. Our blog covers topics related to mobile signal solutions, technology, and best practices to help businesses stay informed and connected.